Heath Tarbert, a senior Treasury Department official and a legal specialist in international financial markets, was overwhelmingly confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday to be a member and chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Tarbert, who has been serving as Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for international markets since October 2017, will replace Chris Giancarlo as chairman of the CFTC.
Giancarlo, a Republican, supported many of the Dodd-Frank reforms implemented by his Democratic predecessor but also led the CFTC in reconsidering some proposals that had alarmed agricultural and energy traders, including new speculative position limits.
The Senate's lopsided 85-9 and 84-9 votes for Tarbert as commission member and chairman respectively reflected the lack of controversy surrounding his nomination and likely also the bipartisan support that Giancarlo's leadership has received.
In a statement, Giancarlo congratulated Tarbert on his confirmation, calling him "highly qualified to lead the agency."
“During my time of service, it has been a priority to transform the CFTC into a 21st Century regulator for today’s digital markets," he said. "With Dr. Tarbert’s confirmation, I know the agency is in safe hands to continue this transition."
Tarbert is set to take over as CFTC chairman on July 15, Giancarlo added.
During his March confirmation hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee, Tarbert assured senators he would lead the commission in continuing to fight the European Union’s efforts to regulate foreign derivative markets.
"I agree with you wholeheartedly that our clearinghouses and exchanges here in the United States need to be exclusively supervised and regulated by U.S. regulators,” Tarbert said.
Tarbert also indicated that he wanted to see the agency crack down on individuals who are caught committing rules violations.
“It can’t be that individuals cause problems and they move onto another firm … and cause more problems,” Tarbert said.
Tarbert grew up in Baltimore and doesn’t have an agricultural background. But in his opening statement for the hearing, he recalled that his served as comptroller of the Maryland Port Administration, a role in which he “oversaw the yearly flow of hundreds of thousands of metric tons of agricultural commodities through Baltimore, including exports of American soybeans, meat, poultry, animal feed, and bulk grains as well as imports of coffee and cocoa beans that were processed and refined for eventual re-export by U.S. companies.”
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