U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi / NLJ

A former top Allen & Overy regulatory partner who had represented some of the world’s largest banks and financial institutions is the Trump administration’s nominee to lead the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Heath Tarbert, who joined Allen & Overy in 2014, had been the head of the U.S. bank regulatory group and a leader in the firm’s global financial services regulatory practice. He was confirmed in October 2017 as assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department, international markets and development, a position where he served as policy chair of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

Tarbert’s clients at Allen & Overy included Credit Suisse Group AG, HSBC Holdings, Morgan Stanley & Co., Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Danske Bank and Bank of America Corp., according to a financial disclosure. Tarbert joined Allen & Overy from Weil, Gotshal & Manges, where he had been a partner in Washington.

Tarbert reported receiving $1.36 million in partnership share on the financial disclosure he filed in May. The amount comprised $1,085,169 in partnership income for calendar year 2017 in addition to $278,280 in income tied to his retirement from the partnership. Tarbert earlier disclosed about $1 million in partner share on the form he filed in March 2017 after his nomination to Treasury.

Heath Tarbert

The financial disclosures, mandatory public filings for many senior-level nominees, also showed Tarbert provided legal services to J. Christopher Giancarlo, the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Tarbert was nominated Tuesday to succeed Giancarlo, whose term expires in April.

Giancarlo was first appointed to the agency during the Obama administration. Trump nominated Giancarlo as chairman last year. Giancarlo’s legal career has included stints as a corporate partner in the New York law firm Brown Raysman Millstein Felder & Steiner. In 1992, Giancarlo founded the firm Giancarlo & Gleiberman. Earlier, he worked for several years in London at Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle.

“The White House has made a superb choice in Heath Tarbert as the intended nominee to be the next Chairman for the Commission,” Giancarlo said in a statement Tuesday. “If confirmed by the US Senate, he will be an effective chairman and will be well suited to continue the work of transitioning the CFTC into a Twenty-First Century digital regulator that balances concerns over systemic stability with market vibrancy to support strong economic growth and American prosperity.”

Tarbert’s nomination comes as the CFTC, along with the Securities and Exchange Commission, works to oversee burgeoning digital currencies. Giancarlo earned the nickname “CrytpoDad” for cautioning lawmakers to not dismiss cryptocurrencies. In recent remarks, Giancarlo has said digital currencies are “here to stay” and advocated for a “do no harm” regulatory approach, while also staying vigilant against fraud and market manipulation.

The CFTC on Tuesday announced it was seeking public comment on “crypto-asset mechanics and markets” to “better inform the Commission’s understanding of the technology, mechanics, and markets for virtual currencies beyond Bitcoin, namely Ether and its use on the Ethereum Network.”

Tarbert’s legal career has included posts on Capitol Hill, where he was special counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee before joining Weil Gotshal, and as associate counsel to then-President George W. Bush in 2008 and 2009.

Tarbert formerly clerked for Judge Douglas Ginsburg on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and he clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas at the U.S. Supreme Court during the 2007-2008 term. His Thomas co-clerks that term included Sidley Austin partner Eric McArthur and Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director at the Judicial Crisis Network.

Tarbert’s wife also formerly clerked for Ginsburg—the Tarberts met during their D.C. Circuit clerkship—and later for Chief Justice John Roberts in the 2010-2011 term. Tarbert’s wife formerly worked at O’Melveny & Myers.


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