C.F.T.C.’s General Counsel to Depart

C.F.T.C.’s General Counsel to Depart

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced on Friday that its top lawyer would soon retire, a departure that follows the agency’s recent legal crackdown on Wall Street.

Dan M. Berkovitz, the agency’s general counsel, was among the most senior regulators to oversee the overhaul of derivatives trading rules in the aftermath of the financial crisis. He also defended the agency against an onslaught of lawsuits from Wall Street firms whose profits suffered under the new rules.

“The commission’s initiatives in these and other areas have made our financial and commodity markets more transparent, more accountable, and safer for the American public,” Mr. Berkovitz said in a statement. The agency added that Mr. Berkovitz has “no announced plans” for his next step.

His exit, coming at the end of March, will cap a long regulatory tenure that appears as something of an oddity. In an era when lawyers shuffle in and out of Washington’s revolving door, bouncing between public service and Wall Street firms, Mr. Berkovitz spent 30 years in government virtually uninterrupted.

Before joining the trading commission, he worked for the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, a Congressional panel that takes aim at Wall Street wrongdoing. At the subcommittee, Mr. Berkovitz investigated energy trading abuses.

In prior regulatory roles, he worked at the Energy Department and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Mr. Berkovitz joined the trading commission in 2009 at a critical juncture for the agency and the economy. The agency, then a sleepy regulator with close ties to Wall Street, was confronting the fallout from the financial crisis and the blowup of the derivatives market.

Under the Dodd-Frank Act, passed in response to the crisis, the agency inherited broad new authority to rein in derivatives trading. Gary Gensler, the agency’s chairman who also joined in 2009, leaned on Mr. Berkovitz to oversee the rule writing.

Mr. Berkovitz, the agency said on Friday, “led the legal review of every rule-making presented to the commission to implement the act.” He then defended rules that came under attack from Wall Street trade groups. The groups filed lawsuits against the agency for, among other things, imposing a rule that caps speculative commodities trading.

“Capping off 30 years of public service, Dan has so much to be proud of, foremost his leadership and counsel to the administration, Congress and this commission on swaps market reform that is now benefiting the public,” Mr. Gensler, who himself could soon leave the agency for another role in the Obama administration, said in a statement. “The public and this agency are losing a remarkable general counsel.”


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