Coinbase Hires Morgan Stanley Lawyer to Head Enterprise Compliance

Ian Rooney’s appointment comes shortly after the exchange brought on former Securities and Exchange Commission official Brett Redfearn as vice president of capital markets, and Molly Abraham, as an associate general counsel for commercial.


Brian Armstrong, CEO and co-founder, Coinbase, Inc.; Source: Coinbase, Inc. (Ethan Pines)


key takeaways

  • Coinbase brings in Morgan Stanley veteran Ian Rooney to head enterprise compliance
  • The crypto exchange hired former SEC official Brett Redfearn earlier this week

Coinbase, the largest US cryptocurrency exchange preparing to go public next month, has brought on Morgan Stanley veteran Ian Rooney. 

Ian Rooney will lead Coinbase’s enterprise compliance team, according to a report from Bloomberg Law Wednesday. Rooney spent nearly a decade at Morgan Stanley, most recently as the head of the global financial crimes division. 

Rooney’s appointment comes shortly after the exchange brought on former Securities and Exchange Commission official Brett Redfearn as vice president of capital markets.

“I’ve always been fascinated with the impact that new technologies have on financial markets,” Redfearn said in the company’s announcement. “I witnessed firsthand how the electronification of trading transformed markets and trading practices and understand well how regulation can both spur it on or keep it in check. I believe that digital assets are at a similar crossroads today.” 

Redfearn is the second high-ranking SEC official to take a position with a crypto company this week. Former SEC Commissioner Jay Clayton became an advisor at One River on Monday. The Connecticut-based firm started investing in bitcoin in November and CEO Eric Peters believes the digital currency will become more valuable than gold. 

In addition to bringing in Rooney and Redfearn, the California-based Coinbase also hired Molly Abraham, who most recently led regulatory efforts at flying car startup Kitty Hawk, as an associate general counsel for commercial.

Founded in 2012, Coinbase is now one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world with around $90 billion in assets under management and about 43 million verified users.

Coinbase announced plans to go public via a direct listing on the Nasdaq, an alternative to an initial public offering, in January 2021.

The company had hoped to list in March but plans have been delayed until April. Earlier this month, Coinbase agreed to pay $6.5 million in a settlement with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission following allegations that Coinbase “self-traded” digital assets between 2015 and 2018.


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