CFTC’s O’Malia to Resign From U.S. Swaps Regulator Next Month

Jul 21, 2014 6:43 pm ET

July 21 (Bloomberg) -- Scott O’Malia, a Republican who used his position on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to criticize some of the agency’s efforts to rein in the $700 trillion global swaps market, said he will resign next month.

O’Malia, 46, the longest-serving member of the current CFTC panel, will step down effective Aug. 8 after more than four years at the agency, he said in a letter released today.

O’Malia is leaving as the CFTC transitions to a new slate of commissioners and shifts from writing to enforcing rules put in place under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.

“Although I did not support all 63 rules that the commission has implemented under Dodd-Frank, I am pleased to have contributed to the policy deliberations to improve commission rulemakings,” O’Malia said in a resignation letter sent today to President Barack Obama.

O’Malia said he was leaving “to pursue other opportunities” without specifying what those were. He didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

Agency Chairman Timothy Massad and two additional commissioners were confirmed by the U.S. Senate last month.

O’Malia was a frequent critic of the CFTC’s rulemaking process under former chairman Gary Gensler, arguing often that the agency was sidestepping procedural responsibilities to assess the costs and benefits of regulations.

Market Impacts

In recent speeches, O’Malia criticized the agency’s policies and a lack of international coordination that has fragmented the global market. He also has called for a reassessment of the impact of the rules on agricultural firms and manufacturers that use swaps to hedge risks.

O’Malia used his oversight of a technology advisory committee to the agency to press for improved oversight of data in the swaps and futures markets traded at CME Group Inc. and Intercontinental Exchange Inc.

“I have very much appreciated Scott’s assistance, advice and friendship,” Massad said in a statement. “I appreciate his dedication to the agency, and his leadership in advancing technology at the CFTC.”

Dodd-Frank expanded the agency’s powers in an effort to reduce risk and increase transparency after unregulated swaps trades helped fuel the 2008 credit crisis. The CFTC regulations are designed to have most interest-rate, credit-default and other swaps guaranteed at central clearinghouses and traded on platforms accessible to money managers and banks.

The regulations were among the most controversial elements of the Dodd-Frank law and spurred lobbying and legal battles against the agency by JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., CME Group Inc. and other financial firms.