CFTC enforcement director departs after record-breaking year - 09 October 2020

Despite a pandemic, enforcement actions at an all-time high.


On October 6, 2020, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced a record-breaking year in the agency’s Division of Enforcement and that the Division of Enforcement Director, James McDonald, will depart the agency on October 8, 2020.


According to the CFTC, as director of Enforcement Division since April of 2017, McDonald’s leadership drove the Division to identify and advance five main priorities:


preserving market integrity, including by developing the Division’s data analytics program;


protecting customers, both in traditional markets and in new markets like those for digital assets;


promoting individual accountability and pursuing accountability up the chain where appropriate;


enhancing coordination with other regulators and criminal authorities; and


increasing transparency in operations, through the issuance of numerous pieces of guidance and advisories about the Division’s policies and practices, including publication of the Division’s Enforcement Manual, into which all published guidance and advisories are incorporated.


Those efforts led the Division of Enforcement to its "most momentous year" in its 45-year history and is a testament to McDonald’s leadership, said CFTC Chairman Heath P. Tarbert.


"It has been an incredible honor to serve the Commission and the Division over the past three-and-a-half years," said McDonald. "I am tremendously proud of the work we’ve done, and I am grateful to have been part of the team. My thanks in particular to Division staff, who work tirelessly each day to preserve the integrity of our markets and protect our market participants."


For Fiscal Year 2020, which closed on September 30, 2020, the CFTC:

  • Filed more enforcement actions (113) than any other year in the agency’s history;
  • Approved a case imposing the largest monetary relief in the agency’s history, with a $920 million resolution for violations relating to manipulation and spoofing;
  • Filed an action in coordination with more state authorities—30 states in total—than ever, alleging more than $180 million defrauded from elderly victims;
  • Aggressively pursued fraud occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when victims may be particularly vulnerable, filing 29 associated cases since a national emergency was declared on March 13, 2020; and
  • Continued its emphasis on coordination and parallel actions with criminal authorities and its regulatory partners.


"In the midst of a pandemic, when volatility in the market is high, it is even more important that our team work tirelessly to preserve market integrity and pursue those who break our rules," McDonald said. "I’m incredibly proud of the Division staff for their contributions to this record-breaking year amid the numerous challenges posed by the virus."


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