Federal Regulator at the Center of FTX “Wine and Dine” Emails Resigns
- December 22, 2022
Former CFTC commissioner and current SEC general counsel announces his resignation after reports based upon PPT FOIA
Today, watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust noted the resignation of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) General Counsel Dan Berkovitz, a former commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
Reports in the Washington Examiner, based on conversations obtained by PPT via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, indicate that Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of FTX, and other executives at the failed cryptocurrency exchange had “wined and dined” Mr. Berkovitz while he was a commissioner at the CFTC last year. In another exchange, Mr. Bankman-Fried described FTX as “the natural choice to be the ‘umpires of the crypto industry’” after Mr. Berkovitz noted the FTX designation as the “Official Cryptocurrency Exchange of Major League Baseball.” During the conversation, the then-commissioner commented, “I’m not sure why MLB needs to have a cryptocurrency exchange, but glad to see that it has one that supports regulation!”
The FOIA request to the CFTC was one of a number PPT submitted to federal agencies that had discussed potential regulation of the cryptocurrency industry to reveal efforts by FTX to influence regulations and oversight of the industry. Earlier media reports disclosed meetings and other communications between Mr. Bankman-Fried and FTX colleagues with the chairman of the SEC and other federal officials.
“It appears that this chapter may represent at least a small measure of accountability in what is turning out to be a sad and disturbing episode,” stated Michael Chamberlain, Director of Protect the Public’s Trust. “While the collapse of FTX and the behavior of its executives has certainly made a lot of news, the actions of federal officials should also be under scrutiny. These are the individuals charged with representing the interests of the American public and when they get caught up by the lure of celebrity, wealth, and power, the public’s interests take a back seat. Thanks to our FOIA requests and journalists willing to take on the powerful, the light of transparency was able to shine to shine into this particular corner.”