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Gary Gensler Confirmed As SEC Chair—Former Goldman Banker And Crypto Professor

Forbes | Jonathan Ponciano | Apr 14, 2021

SEC securities exchange commission - Gary Gensler Confirmed As SEC Chair—Former Goldman Banker And Crypto Professor

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed President Joe Biden's nomination of Gary Gensler, a former Goldman Sachs banker and a forceful commodities regulator under former President Barack Obama, to head up the Securities and Exchange Commission, setting the stage for widespread reform as the agency takes on unprecedented stock-market volatility and booming institutional adoption in the nascent cryptocurrency space.

Key Facts

The Senate confirmed Gensler's appointment Wednesday afternoon in a vote of 53 to 45, placing the 63-year-old academic and former investment banker atop the agency charged with maintaining fair, orderly and efficient markets.

Gensler, who's promised to increase transparency and reduce risk in the market, succeeds former SEC Chair Jay Clayton, an attorney tapped by former President Donald Trump to undo financial regulations that "stifled investment in American companies."

The confirmation comes more than a month after the Senate Banking Committee voted 14 to 10 to advance Gensler's nomination for two terms ending on June 5, 2026.

See:  Will Gary Gensler at SEC be Good for Crypto?

The Senate only voted to confirm Gensler for the remainder of the term expiring June 5, so it will need to hold another vote for his second term.

Viewed as a leading reformer after the 2008 financial crisis, Gensler opened his nomination hearing in March by touting his five-year stint as chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and cautioning that "when we fail to root out wrongdoing, or to adapt to new technologies, or to really understand novel financial instruments, things can go very wrong."

What To Watch For

Crypto regulation under Gensler. In an interview with Forbes last month, SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce acknowledged Gensler will have a "very busy agenda—much of which will have nothing to do with crypto," but she said he's likely to be "sympathetic to the call for regulatory clarity" in the space.

See:  Hester Peirce on personal liberty, crypto regs and retail investor particiation

The SEC has long delayed issuing firm regulation targeting digital currencies given its purview over securities (and not currencies), but Gensler—a professor focused on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology at the MIT Sloan School of Management—will be overseeing the agency as it takes on a slew of bitcoin exchange-traded fund applications and as it investigates Ripple, the firm behind one of the world's largest cryptocurrencies, for the alleged sale of unregistered securities.

 

“When it comes to enforcement, Mr. Gensler has shown he has the guts to take on bad actors, no matter how big, no matter how powerful they are, and he will hold them accountable,” Senate Banking Chair Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said Tuesday.

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