CFTC’s Heath Tarbert Steps Down as Chairman; Called ETH a Commodity in 2019


Heath Tarbert has made good on his promise to step down as the Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) early this year.

In a press release on Thursday afternoon, Tarbert announced his resignation from the agency, in light of the incoming Biden administration.

Staying on For Now

Tarbert announced his intention to vacate the CFTC in December 2020. However, his announcement didn't state his plans following his resignation. He finally cleared the ambiguity in Thursday’s release, explaining that he would continue serving as a Commissioner with the regulatory agency.

In his new role, Tarbert is expected to stay with the CFTC until April 13, 2024.

Speaking of his accomplishments as CFTC’s head, Tarbert said he was able to put crypto assets in the driving seat. The former lawyer tagged his work as “promoting responsible fintech innovation, elevating LabCFTC into an independent operating unit, and beginning to treat Ether as a commodity.”

Tarbert was a strong supporter of crypto assets during his time as Chairman of the commission. Amongst his policy stands, he is famous for refusing to squarely treat all cryptocurrencies as securities.

In an October interview with Morgan Creek Digital founder Anthony Pompliano, Tarbert spoke of his plan to expand the use of cryptocurrencies in the U.S. financial market.

Tarbert’s tenure also saw the establishment of LabCFTC, the agency’s financial technology research wing, which focuses on educating the public on financial instruments including cryptocurrencies.

Changes Across the Board

The CFTC isn’t the only regulatory agency to experience a shakeup recently. In November 2020, Jay Clayton, the former Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), announced his exit from the agency.

Clayton has since stepped down from his role, and all eyes will be on President Biden's pick to replace him. So far, the frontrunner is Gary Gensler, a blockchain professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

A former Goldman Sachs executive, Gensler was the CFTC Chairman under the Obama administration. Reuters reported earlier this week that he would be the likely Biden pick, bringing his expertise into a pivotal role. He definitely seems to be prepared, having taught courses on digital assets and blockchain technology at MIT all through the Trump years.

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