August 10, 2020

Volume X, Number 223

August 10, 2020

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Trump Administration to nominate J. Christopher Giancarlo to serve as CFTC Chairman

On March 14, 2017, the White House announced that President Donald Trump intends to nominate J. Christopher Giancarlo, currently Acting Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”), to serve as the CFTC’s permanent Chairman, subject to confirmation by the Senate. Acting Chairman Giancarlo joined the CFTC as a commissioner in 2014, and was named Acting Chairman on January 20, 2017, when Timothy G. Massad stepped down from that post.

Although the nomination of Acting Chairman Giancarlo as permanent Chairman has been expected, the move to make it official signals more clearly that, the CFTC under the Trump administration will be moving in a significantly different direction. While we expect Acting Chairman Giancarlo to begin announcing his regulatory agenda in the near future, throughout his tenure at the CFTC he has articulated a clear vision of how the CFTC should operate as a regulator. Under Chairman Giancarlo, market participants can expect a shift in how the CFTC approaches a variety of issues, including swaps trading, cross-border harmonization, and technological innovation, in all cases adopting a flexible, forward-thinking approach in which the CFTC will encourage innovative solutions. Indeed, in remarks made since the election and since being named acting Chairman, he has made clear that he intends, as Chairman, to move the CFTC in the direction he foresaw as a commissioner. Moreover, in a recent speech, Giancarlo also announced an agency-wide review of CFTC rules, regulations and practices to make them “simpler, less burdensome and less costly.” This review, called “Project KISS,” is consistent with President Trump’s executive order to reduce regulatory burdens. Giancarlo further announced a reorganization within the agency, whereby the market surveillance function will be moved from the Division of Market Oversight (“DMO”) into the Enforcement Division. This will enhance the Enforcement Division’s ability to focus on market disrupting behavior, such as spoofing, manipulation and fraud. DMO will gain a new market intelligence branch, dedicated to identifying and analyzing current and emerging market trends. Finally, Giancarlo instructed the agency to undertake a financial technology review to make it a more effective and innovative regulator. Thus far, Giancarlo has shared his viewpoint that the CFTC should regulate in a manner that permits the markets to innovate and evolve.

© 2020 Covington & Burling LLPNational Law Review, Volume VII, Number 74


About this Author

Jason Grimes, corporate lawyer, Covington

Jason Grimes is an associate in the firm’s financial institutions and futures and derivatives practice groups. He advises clients on a wide range of regulatory matters, including compliance with various state and federal banking laws, and compliance with the Commodity Exchange Act.

Representative Matters

  • Advised a CFTC-registered swap dealer on compliance issues related to trading on swap execution facilities
  • Advised a major financial institution in connection with the treatment of non-deliverable...
James Kwok, Covington Burling, Corporate Lawyer, Investment Banking

James Kwok provides advice to financial institutions, asset managers and commercial entities with respect to derivatives. He also regularly represents clients on a wide range of regulatory and policy matters, including with respect to federal securities law, the Investment Advisers Act, and the Commodity Exchange Act.

Mr. Kwok also has passed all three levels of the Chartered Financial Analyst exams.

212 841 1033
Stephen Humenik, regulatory and public policy lawyer, Covington
Of Counsel

Stephen M. Humenik leads the firm’s futures and derivatives practice. He has extensive experience on cross-border regulatory, compliance and enforcement matters involving the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and markets for derivatives and physical and financial commodities. Mr. Humenik applies his business, operational, and government experience to the implementation of CFTC regulations, including the registration, trading, clearing and other compliance obligations of the Dodd-Frank Act and other global regulatory reforms.

Anne M. Termine, Covington, securities litigation attorney
Of Counsel

Anne Termine is a member of the firm’s Global Futures and Derivatives Practice and leads the Derivatives Enforcement Team. She is also a member of the white collar defense and investigations practice. Ms. Termine advises clients in handling internal investigations and regulatory enforcement inquiries related to the derivatives markets and the cryptocurrency markets.

Prior to joining Covington, Ms. Termine was a Chief Trial Attorney in the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission's (CFTC) Division of Enforcement, where she was responsible for investigating and...