Changes at the top: Votes take place this month as CFTC is set to shuffle senior commissioners

Senate Agriculture Committee to meet on April 6 to cast votes on three senior level regulatory officials within one of the world’s most well-renowned authorities

Among the very upper echelons of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), not only are there some of the world’s most highly respected and knowledgeable financial markets regulators, but indeed senior political figures.

At this elevated level, changes are abond at the CFTC, with the Senate Agriculture Committee due to meet very shortly to cast their vote on President Barack Obama’s nominees to senior level regulatory positions.

This particular Senate meeting will take place on Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. at the 328A Russell Senate Office Building in Washington D.C., and will provide a forum upon which the panel’s decision to sign off the nomination of Timothy Massad, a senior Treasury Department official who is currently being cited as a potential candidate to head the agency.

Further nominees include Sharon Bowen, a partner at law firm Latham & Watkins LLP, and brokerage executive J. Christopher Giancarlo.

In November last year, it was anticipated that Mr. Massad would succeed Gary Gensler, who left the agency in early January.

Ms. Bowen was nominated in December to succeed Democrat Bart Chilton, who stepped down in March, while Mr. Giancarlo would fill an open Republican seat at the commission. He was nominated last summer.

The CFTC has undergone a highly detailed and extensive overhaul of its rulings on OTC derivatives trading in North America, the vast majority of which was under Mr. Gensler’s tenure, largely represented by the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act’s regulatory reforms on how OTC trades in the institutional FX market can be accounted for, including the requirement for very complex post-trade clearing, processing and reporting systems.

This year’s decisions by the panel will indeed be one of careful consideration, especially when bearing in mind the United States’ continuing commitment to consumer protection and the challenges faced relating to the international investigation on FX rate manipulation which so far is still in progress but has reached government level, with the Federal Bureau of Investigations having launched a criminal inquiry into the allegations as last year drew to a close, as well as a class action lawsuit against major financial institutions having commenced.

In congruence with the extremely conservative nature by which the United States views customer exposure to potential pitfalls, the Wall Street Journal has reported that at least two senators, David Vitter (Republican, Louisiana) and Thad Cochran (Republican, Mississippi), have raised questions about Ms. Bowen’s role as acting chair of a brokerage insurance fund and its decision not to compensate victims of R. Allen Stanford’s $7 billion Ponzi scheme. Concerns over Ms. Bowen could delay her nomination and as a result, hold up the nominations of Messrs. Massad and Giancarlo, according to Senate aides and industry officials.

Ms. Bowen was nominated in December to supersede Democrat Bart Chilton, whilst Mr. Giancarlo’s potential tenure as a Republican commissioner was brought about by his nomination during the middle of last year.

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