CFTC chair to step down in 2021

Darren Sinden

It’s a shame that the bipartisan nature of US politics does not allow Mr Tarbet to remain in situ under the Biden presidency, as he won’t easily be replaced.

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The chair of the US Commodities Futures Trading Commission or CFTC is to step down in January when Joe Biden becomes President.

Heath Tarbet is staunch Republican and took up his post in July 2019 and will have served around 18 months when he symbolically resigns next month.

A change of administration in the USA often means that senior posts are reallocated by the incoming government, though Mr Tarbet’s record at the CFTC might have been thought sufficient for him to have retained his role, political differences aside.

Speaking about his time at the CFTC Mr Tarbet said that “It has been a great honour to serve the American people as the 14th chairman and chief executive of the CFTC as well as one of the agency’s five commissioners. Leading the men and women of the CFTC these last 17 months has been an extraordinary privilege but, like all good things, it must come to an end,”

Before joining the CFTC in 2019 Mr Tarbet had been policy chair for the US committee on foreign investment in the US, where he served for two years and he had also served as the US executive director at the World Bank.

Mr Tarbet has been a very effective leader at the CFTC, and during his time at the commission, it has drafted and added 40 new rules and 21 new proposals and of course weathered the extreme conditions created by the pandemic. Heath Tarbet described the CFTC’s performance under those conditions as its finest hour.

The Futures Industry Association or FIA expressed its thoughts on the pending departure, stating

“We appreciate the chairman’s response during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, his direct communication with FIA members, and his work to ensure the markets remained liquid and functioning”

“Chairman Tarbert also served with distinction on the international stage, collaborating with counterparts in various jurisdictions to preserve cross-border access to markets for US entities and recently becoming the first CFTC chairman to be named a vice-chair of IOSCO.”

In a period when many appointees made by the Trump administration came in for criticism, Mr Tarbet is an exception and looks to be leaving the CFTC in a stronger position than when he joined.

The regulator’s enforcement division has been particularly active during 2020 issuing a record number of enforcement actions and generating $1.30 billion in penalties.

It’s a shame that the bipartisan nature of US politics does not allow Mr Tarbet to remain in situ under the Biden presidency, as he won’t easily be replaced.

However, at the relatively young age of 44 he no doubt has an exciting career path ahead of him and its unlikely that he will be short of job offers, though they will probably be from the private sector or the legal profession as Mr Tarbet was previously a partner at Allen and Overy.

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