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CFTC Appoints Former DEX Lawyer as Head of Fintech Wing

Jason Somensatto joined the CFTC in February.

Apr 29, 2021 at 11:33 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 12:48 p.m. UTC

Jason Somensatto, a former lawyer at decentralized exchange project 0x Labs, is the new acting director of LabCFTC, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's (CFTC) financial technology research division.

Somensatto will take over from Melissa Netram, who departed the post in early April. Before joining the CFTC in February, he was a senior counsel at 0x, whose ZRX token was the first ERC-20 token to be listed on Coinbase’s professional trading platform. 0x raised $24 million in an initial coin offering in 2017.

Somensatto declined to comment when reached, but the current LabCFTC “Team” page confirms his role.

While a number of high-profile regulators have recently taken positions in crypto businesses, Somensatto is one of the individuals moving the other way this year.

In a statement, Acting CFTC Chairman Rostin Behnam praised Somensatto’s appointment. 

“I am grateful that Jason has agreed to serve as the Acting Director of LabCFTC,” he said. “Given his experience and deep knowledge of the digital asset marketplace, I am confident he will continue supporting the agency’s important role within this evolving space.”

Prior to Somensatto’s tenure, LabCFTC was headed by Daniel Gorfine, the first director of the CFTC office, and Netram, who took over in October 2019.

That same month, then-Chairman Heath Tarbert announced the division would be spun out into its own independent office, reporting directly to the CFTC chair. 

The group acts as a research division within the federal regulator, publishing primers on the crypto industry as well as “Requests for Input” on issues like Ethereum and the surrounding market.

The CFTC oversees all derivatives and other commodity products in the U.S., and is the regulator responsible for green-lighting bitcoin and ether futures products. The agency is also nominally responsible for spotting potential fraud or manipulation in the markets of some other cryptocurrencies, like litecoin and dogecoin.

While President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the U.S. federal securities regulator, Gary Gensler, was recently confirmed to his post by the Senate, there’s no clear picture yet of who Biden will tap to lead the CFTC on a permanent basis. 

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