The Most Influential Folks in Crypto Regulations

Recognizing some of the folks involved in crypto policy

AccessTimeIconDec 6, 2023 at 6:15 a.m. UTC
Updated Jan 26, 2024 at 3:48 p.m. UTC
AccessTimeIconDec 6, 2023 at 6:15 a.m. UTCUpdated Jan 26, 2024 at 3:48 p.m. UTC
AccessTimeIconDec 6, 2023 at 6:15 a.m. UTCUpdated Jan 26, 2024 at 3:48 p.m. UTC

It's not that being a crypto regulatory reporter is ever really boring, but a lot has happened this year. Like, a LOT.

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Who's doing what

The narrative

CoinDesk published its annual Most Influential list, recognizing the 50 individuals who have had the greatest impact on the crypto universe over the past 12 months.

Why it matters

This list recognizes developers, activists, and more than a few regulatory/legal folks. I wanted to create a quick list of folks who were solely tied to that last category.

Breaking it down

CoinDesk published its annual Most Influential list (it's not a ranking, except for the top 10 being maybe more influential than the other 40).

I wrote a few pieces (I had nothing to do with the art and didn't know about it when I wrote the pieces), as did my CoinDesk reg team colleagues, but I wanted to take a minute to recognize other influential figures who we may see pop up again.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive or objective list; just a recognition of some of the folks whose work I've paid attention to this year.

  • U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle Sassoon, AUSA Nicholas Roos and the rest of the prosecutors who ran the case against Sam Bankman-Fried – Obviously this group needs no introduction; just last month, they secured a conviction on seven different counts of fraud and conspiracy against FTX's Sam Bankman-Fried. During a press conference hours after the jury returned its verdict, Williams warned that his team would continue to go after any wrongdoing they found.
  • FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried – While Bankman-Fried himself hasn't seen much in a crypto regulatory sense this year, the aftermath of his companies' collapse still looms large over the broader industry and how both regulators and lawmakers engage with the sector.
  • New York Department of Financial Services Superintendent Adrienne Harris – NYDFS has been an influential overseer for crypto companies in New York for years, but Harris continues to build out rules for the space.
  • New York Attorney General Letitia James – The NYAG's office has been on the industry's radar since announcing its inquiry into Tether and Bitfinex, but it's brought a lot more suits this year that hint at how James' office might be looking at the space more broadly. Namely, its suits against Kucoin, Gemini and Digital Currency Group point to an effort to widen the NYAG's authority and oversight over crypto.
  • State regulators, including Joe Rotunda, Amanda Senn, Tung Chan, Clothilde Hewlett and many, many more – While federal regulators get most of the attention, state regulators have been very active the past few years, including this year, bringing actions against companies like Coinbase.
  • Ripple Chief Legal Officer Stuart Alderoty – While Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse was on CD's official list, I think it's worth noting the legal mind at Ripple who got the company to July's ruling.
  • Grayscale General Counsel Craig Salm and outside counsel Donald Verrilli Jr. – Ditto the Grayscale team, which successfully argued that an SEC rejection of its bitcoin exchange-traded fund conversion application was "arbitrary."
  • Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chair Rostin Behnam and Commissioners Kristin Johnson, Caroline Pham, Christy Goldsmith-Romero and Summer Mersinger – The CFTC doesn't get tagged as a regulator bringing a lot of enforcement actions, but it kind of has, winning – for example – last year's Ooki DAO case.
  • Securities and Exchange Commission Commissioners Hester Peirce, Mark Uyeda, Caroline Crenshaw and Jaime Lizárraga – It's also worth remembering that while SEC staff can put together an enforcement action, a majority of commissioners need to agree before it actually gets filed.
  • CFTC and SEC staff – behind the scenes, these are the folks who do a lot of the work on enforcement actions, rulemaking, etc.

Stories you may have missed

This week

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Tuesday

  • 15:00 UTC (10:00 a.m. ET) The House Financial Services Committee held a subcommittee meeting on government entities and innovation. One lawmaker asked a Fed official about Custodia, but the official just referenced back to what the Fed's already published, Jesse Hamilton says.

Friday

  • 07:00 UTC (8:00 a.m. CEST) The European Union Council presidency will move on to Belgium.

Elsewhere:

  • (The Wall Street Journal) Dave Michaels at the Journal provides some interesting color on how last month's Binance settlement unfolded, amid a broader analysis of the SEC question.
  • (Bloomberg) The IRS is now investigating more crypto-related tax evasion cases than it was a few years ago, when most of its crypto cases were focused on money laundering, an official said.
  • (Reuters) Spanish police have arrested Alejandro Cao de Benos, who allegedly recruited Virgil Griffith to speak at a North Korean conference (Griffith is currently serving a roughly 5-year-long sentence on sanctions violation charges tied to his presentation there).
  • (Bloomberg) Some of Binance's biggest traders learned about its massive fine to settle U.S. criminal and civil charges learned about it a few months earlier, Bloomberg reported.
  • (Federal Reserve) The Federal Reserve's Commercial Bank Examination Manual now includes a section on crypto.
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If you’ve got thoughts or questions on what I should discuss next week or any other feedback you’d like to share, feel free to email me at nik@coindesk.com or find me on Twitter @nikhileshde.

You can also join the group conversation on Telegram.

See ya’ll next week!

Correction (Dec. 6, 2023, 16:03 UTC): Corrects that Stu Alderoty's title is "chief legal officer," not "general counsel."

Edited by Sam Reynolds.


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CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by Block.one; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk offers all employees above a certain salary threshold, including journalists, stock options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Nikhilesh De

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.