Senior Regulator Joins ACA Compliance Group; CFTC Hires Coinbase Counsel

Carlo di Florio is the GRC firm's chief services officer; Dorothy DeWitt leads the futures agency's Market Oversight division

Friday, September 20, 2019

By Jeffrey Kutler


Executive appointments announced on successive September days reflect continuing steady demand for legal and compliance expertise - along with a bit of a twist in the proverbial revolving door between public and private sector.

ACA Compliance Group, a fast-growing provider of governance, risk and compliance (GRC) advisory services and technology, said in a September 16 announcement that Carlo di Florio had joined as global chief services officer after nearly a decade in senior positions with the Securities and Exchange Commission and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

DiFlorio's responsibilities “will include oversight, management and strategic growth of ACA's global regulatory compliance, cybersecurity and risk, AML [anti-money-laundering] and financial crimes, and performance practices,” ACA said. “He also will focus on enhancing ACA's infrastructure and technology for servicing, managing and delivering its quality service-based offerings,” added ACA, which has headquarters in New York and offices in other U.S. cities, Hong Kong, London and Malta. The Malta presence and the Mirabella regulatory hosting platform were among the assets that ACA acquired in its September 2018 merger with Cordium, another leading GRC firm. They then had a total of more than 4,000 clients worldwide.

Exiting Coinbase

On September 17, a move in the opposite direction: Dorothy DeWitt is joining the Commodity Futures Trading Commission as director of the Division of Market Oversight after serving for nearly a year as vice president and general counsel for business lines and markets of Coinbase.

A leading digital wallet provider and cryptocurrency exchange operator that has sought to attract institutional trading interest, San Francisco-based Coinbase has been a magnet for experienced financial services industry hands - although the flow has recently gone the other way. Assif Hirji, a former president and COO of TD Ameritrade, held those titles at Coinbase from December 2017 until he left in June 2019. Among other departures are former Citibank trader Tim Plakas, who had an over-the-counter role at Coinbase and joined the Galaxy Digital venture of famed hedge fund manager Michael Novogratz; Adam White, who was leading Coinbase's institutional initiative and is now COO of Intercontinental Exchange digital asset platform Bakkt; and Christine Sandler, director of institutional sales at Coinbase, who joined Fidelity Investments.

Dorothy DeWitt Headshot
Dorothy DeWitt, Director of the Division of Market Oversight, CFTC

DeWitt, a Harvard Law School graduate and Certified Anti-Money-Laundering Specialist, had previously worked at high-tech market maker Citadel Securities, S&P Global, and law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell. She was also a hedge fund portfolio manager and research analyst. CFTC pointed out that DeWitt grew up on family farms in Georgia and Texas, served as president of a youth 4-H club, and worked during college (University of Texas) in the poultry processing industry in Gainesville, Georgia.

“She brings to the CFTC more than 20 years of private sector experience in the financial services and legal fields,” CFTC chairman Heath Tarbert said about the latest in a series of leadership appointments since he succeeded J. Christopher Giancarlo in July. “Her strong investment, risk, legal and compliance background and familiarity with distributed ledger technology, including crypto assets, will be invaluable as the agency looks to develop a holistic approach to regulating 21st century commodities.”

“Unfinished Business”

Among Tarbert's other senior appointments are Clark Hutchinson as director of the Division of Clearing and Risk; Summer Mersinger as director of the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs; and Suyash Paliwal as director of the Office of International Affairs. When announcing the latter two in August, Tarbert stated, “The CFTC is tackling unfinished business and the unwritten future in earnest. I look forward to the contributions the Offices of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs and International Affairs will make as the commission works to ensure our derivatives markets continue to be fair, innovative, and vibrant.”

CFTC said that DeWitt will be responsible for supervision of derivatives platforms and swap data repositories, including the evaluation of new platform-traded products.

She moves into a post that had been held by Amir Zaidi, a nine-year CFTC veteran who recently became global head of compliance at TP ICAP, and who was followed as acting Division of Market Oversight director by Vincent McGonagle, Division of Enforcement principal deputy director.

Brian Brooks, Coinbase Global chief legal officer, said in a statement: “Dorothy DeWitt has emerged as a national leader in the important debates about the appropriate regulatory structure for cryptocurrency markets. She represents the best Coinbase has to offer, and we are proud that she will now have the opportunity to shape national policy for commodity and derivative markets.”

Exam Program Oversight

Carlo di Florio is a former partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers' Financial Services Risk & Regulatory practice who joined the SEC in 2010 and moved to FINRA in 2013.

At the SEC, di Florio was director of the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE), leading the National Exam Program and its staff of more than 900. Upon his departure in 2013, then-SEC chair Mary Jo White said, “Under his leadership, the program recruited experts, implemented risk and quantitative analytics units, deployed new technology and strengthened industry risk governance practices. Carlo also has shown tremendous leadership in strengthening partnership and coordination among regulators nationally and internationally.”

At FINRA, a self-regulatory organization overseen by the SEC, di Florio was chief risk and strategy officer and co-chair of the project management office of FINRA360, described as “a comprehensive self-evaluation and organizational improvement initiative,” launched in 2017, to enhance the agency's effectiveness in its mission to protect investors and promote market integrity.

During his six years at FINRA, di Florio oversaw and supported offices including Risk & Strategy, Emerging Regulatory Issues, Regulatory Planning and Programs, Business Consulting Group, International Affairs, Litigation and Counsel, Fixed Income Regulation, and SEC Oversight Liaison and Counsel.

Carlo Di Florio Headshot
Carlo di Florio, Chief Services Officer, ACA Compliance Group

Addressing Complexity

“I have always admired ACA for its integrity and mission to do right by clients,” di Florio said in a statement. “The strong, trusting relationships ACA has built with its clients and partners is a testament to the culture of the firm. ACA's commitment to helping clients strengthen compliance, manage risk, and prevent crisis through technology and quality service supports both the strategic needs of clients and the mission of global financial regulators.”

ACA Compliance Group co-founder and chief revenue officer Jeffrey Morton said, “Our clients are facing the ever-growing complexity of their compliance responsibilities and they need the right support, guidance, and technology to address those demands. Carlo's tremendous experience and success developing and leading teams and technologies in both the private and public sectors to support financial services firms and to protect investors will be instrumental to ACA and our clients.”

In August, the ACA Technology Solutions division announced the integration of its Decryptex trade surveillance technology with FlexTrade's FlexNOW execution management system; and it released version 5.0 of the NorthPoint Data Warehouse, offering “faster performance and new regulatory compliance features that address the unique data management challenges faced by asset managers.”


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