• Brooks was pivotal in pushing through regulations friendly to the digital assets industry during his tenure
  • Binance.US is currently run by Catherine Coley, a tech and finance executive formerly with Ripple and Silicon Valley Bank

The US arm of the world’s largest digital assets exchange has hired the former head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the nation’s banking regulator, to run its operations in a continued push to become regulator-friendly. 

Binance.US is currently run by Catherine Coley, a tech and finance executive formerly with Ripple and Silicon Valley Bank. It’s unknown as to the future role she’ll play with Binance. 

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Brian Brooks will start at Binance on May 1. During his tenure at the OCC, which lasted from May 2020 to January with the transition to the Biden Administration, Brooks was lovingly called the “CryptoController” for his work in shepherding through policy friendly to the digital assets industry. Under his watch, the OCC gave the green-light for banks to provide custody services for digital assets and also created a federal bank charter for digital assets-first banks

Brooks is quoted as saying that he aims to make Binance’s US wing a stalwart competitor to regulatory-friendly Coinbase. 

“I wouldn’t have taken this job if I didn’t have a strong commitment from the board to lead a strong compliance program,” he said.

Binance’s hiring of Brooks is another step toward hiring former DC heavyweights to represent itself to lawmakers and regulators. In March, Binance announced that it had hired Max Baucus, a former US Senator for Montana and member of the Democratic Party, to act as its head of government relations.   

Brooks and Baucus aren’t the only familiar faces from DC to be hired by the industry. In late March, Coinbase announced that it had hired Brett Redfearn, an ex-SEC director in charge of its division of trading and markets to run Coinbase’s capital markets group. Baton, a “blockchain-inspired” startup that uses distributed ledger technology to revolutionize bank-to-bank payments, hired former CFTC Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo earlier in April to act as a Senior Advisor. 

Crypto hires can also go both ways. In February, TD Ameritrade’s Sunayna Tuteja, the brokerage’s former chief of digital assets and distributed ledger, was hired by the Fed as its new chief innovation officer as it doubled down on research to facilitate the transition into the brave new world of digital assets. 

Aside from regulators, there have been dozens of high-profile hires of former Wall Street bankers by digital assets companies as institutional investors and their dollars look towards them as a viable alternative to traditional financial companies. 

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    Sam Reynolds is a Taipei-based reporter, covering digital assets and regulation throughout Asia. Before joining Blockworks he was an editor at Forkast News and an analyst with IDC.