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Over the last year, the CFTC continued to align itself with other, more frequently-lauded enforcement agencies like the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Among other undertakings, the CFTC implemented new rules aimed at protecting and incentivizing whistleblowers; restructured the market surveillance unit so that it reports directly to the Director of Enforcement; and issued new cooperation and self-reporting advisories in line with other agencies such as the DOJ, which recently formalized its cooperation-centered Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement policy.

But the CFTC also closed out its fiscal year having brought only 49 enforcement actions, nearly 30 percent fewer actions than in FY2016, and obtaining orders totaling approximately $412 million in restitution, disgorgement and penalties, amounting to only one-third of the $1.29 billion garnered in FY2016. The low numbers, however, are not all that surprising given the current administration’s focus on regulatory minimalism and CFTC Chairman Christopher Giancarlo’s parallel mission to “right-size” the agency’s regulatory footprint. Early last year, Giancarlo launched Project KISS, for “Keep It Simple, Stupid,” which directs CFTC staff to review agency rules and apply them in simpler ways. The project’s announcement came on the heels of an executive order issued by President Trump calling on federal agencies to find ways to ease regulatory burdens on the U.S. economy.

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