CFTC Cryptocurrency Oversight on Agenda for Senate Panel

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By Richard Hill

A top market regulator of cryptocurrencies will have a second opportunity to get quizzed by lawmakers next month.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo will testify Feb. 15 about the “state of the CFTC” before the Senate Agriculture Committee, the panel said.

The hearing will explore pending rules, cryptocurrency regulations, and international agreements, committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and ranking member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said Jan. 29.

Giancarlo’s appearance before the panel will come nine days after he is set to testify before the Senate Banking Committee alongside SEC Chairman Jay Clayton at a hearing on virtual currencies.

Giancarlo and Clayton co-authored a Wall Street Journal op-ed last week in which they said their agencies will “work together to bring transparency and integrity to these markets and, more importantly, to deter and prosecute fraud and abuse.”

Balancing Act

Giancarlo has been running the agency since being named interim chairman in January 2017. One of his first initiatives was setting up LabCFTC to encourage innovation in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and other financial technology tools. At the same time, the agency has brought several enforcement actions aimed at fraud in the virtual currency space and is contemplating how to balance innovation in cryptocurrency with customer protection.

Major pending rulemakings other than digital currency include proposals to establish position limits on 28 physical commodity futures contracts and to regulate automated trading.

The CFTC in October agreed with counterparts in Europe on a rules-equivalence agreement for overseeing swaps trading facilities. At the same time, Giancarlo has been critical of signs that Europe was having second thoughts about a similar 2016 agreement to oversee clearinghouses.

Roberts and Stabenow sent Giancarlo a letter earlier in January encouraging him to continue taking a tough stance against any efforts by European officials to change the clearing-equivalence agreement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Richard Hill in Washington at rhill@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

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