Rostin Behnam, Acting Chairman of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), wants Congress to expand the scope of his agency’s authority in relation to the rapid development of digital asset markets. Should US lawmakers reply to Behnam’s call, this could mean that yet another government agency could tighten the regulatory grip over cryptoassets.
Shortly after a Bloomberg report suggested the US Department of Treasury was expected to transfer a lion’s share of the responsibility for regulating stablecoins to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the CFTC is joining the race for which agency will regulate the rapidly growing crypto industry.
Speaking at a US Senate Agriculture Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, Behnam said he wanted to end his statement “with a few words about new and emerging risks and opportunities.”
The “growth and widespread adoption of digital assets present many novel issues for all regulators. Against this backdrop, the CFTC has actively used our existing statutory authority to stop and deter fraud and manipulation in these emerging markets,” the agency’s acting head said. “If confirmed, the CFTC will continue its proactive approach to protect customers and strengthen market resiliency.”
Behnam said he was looking forward to cooperating with the committee “to reexamine – and, if appropriate, expand – the CFTC’s authority to ensure both the benefits and promise of the emerging digital asset market and the underlying technology can be harnessed without undue harm to customers and financial market stability.”
Former President Donald Trump nominated Behnam to head the CFTC in July 2017, after which he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate a month later for a term expiring in June 2021, but the Commission’s members elected Behnam as acting chairman in January 2021. Last September, President Joe Biden nominated him for a second term.
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