CFTC head looks to new Congress for action on crypto regulation

Regulation

Rostin Behnam, chair of the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission, or CFTC, has said he will be continuing efforts for the agency to regulate non-security tokens.

In remarks released for a Feb. 3 American Bar Association event, Behnam pointed to “bankruptcies, failures, and runs” as part of the justification for Congress to give the CFTC the authority to address regulation for cryptocurrencies. According to the CFTC chair, the commission was “well positioned” to address any regulatory gaps but deferred to U.S. lawmakers to pull the trigger on legislation.

“Regulation is necessary to protect customers and to prevent failures which cannot predictably be contained within any boundaries across the domestic and global financial markets,” said Behnam. “Regardless of whether one or many occur in 2023 or 2033, we must act. There is a new Congress, and I will continue to engage and provide technical assistance to draft legislation, as requested.”

According to the CFTC chair, budget increases for the commission would also help grow its enforcement team, which brought 69 crypto-related actions to date — a list that includes FTX, Ooki DAO, and others. Behnam said the team was “working towards another strong year of precedent-setting cases” against fraudulent or illegal digital asset projects.

Related: CFTC slammed for ‘blatant regulation by enforcement’ over Ooki DAO case

Though the political makeup of the 118th Congress differs slightly from that of its predecessor, it’s unclear if the CFTC will be given additional authority under Behnam. One of the pieces of legislation lawmakers may revisit is the Lummis-Gillibrand Responsible Financial Innovation Act — a bill first introduced in June 2022 aimed at addressing the roles of the CFTC and Securities and Exchange Commission on crypto regulation.

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