Outgoing Top SEC Lawyer Dined With SBF During FTX Lobbying Spree

As SEC general counsel Berkovitz steps down, details of an upscale dinner reveal the relationship between FTX execs and top US officials


Maurice NORBERT/Shutterstock, modified by Blockworks


Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) general counsel Dan Berkovitz reportedly dined with disgraced former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried at an elite Indian restaurant in October last year.

Berkovitz is now set to leave the SEC at the end of next month, having worked there for a little over a year. He was a commissioner for the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) at the time of the Bankman-Fried dinner, which occurred at Rasika West End in Washington DC on Oct. 5.

Bankman-Fried’s FTX US acquired CFTC-regulated crypto derivatives firm LedgerX three weeks later, rebranding the unit to FTX US Derivatives.

Other executives including FTX general counsel Ryne Miller and former FTX President Brett Harrison joined them, according to the Washington Examiner, citing emails retrieved by the watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust under the Freedom of Information Act. 

LedgerX CEO Zach Dexter, Association for Digital Assets Markets CEO Michelle Bond and former CFTC Commissioner Mark Wetjen may have also attended, per the emails. Wetjen served as FTX head of policy and regulatory strategy.

It isn’t known what their dinner discussion involved. Still, it occurred during the heat of last year’s bull run, a time when FTX was pushing to offer margin trading and leverage to US-based crypto investors.

Miller paid the bill and Berkovitz reimbursed him $50 for his own meal, according to the report, with the amount at Miller’s request. 

“Thanks, Ryne,” Berkovitz reportedly wrote to Miller in one of the emails. “I’m making the payment to PayPal now. Let me know if you don’t receive it. Here’s a copy of the article I gave to Sam. Enjoy!”

FTX’s Miller replied: “Received and thank you for the article. Wishing you all the best in the new adventure.”

FTX insiders now face SEC and CFTC fraud charges

The SEC hasn’t given any particular reason for Berkovitz’s stepping down, but Chairman Gary Gensler had good things to say about the official. 

“I am grateful for [Berkovitz’s] exceptional public service and his dedication to this agency,” Gensler said in a statement. “[Berkovitz] has led the Office of General Counsel during a time in which we’ve proposed critical reforms throughout the capital markets. His counsel, judgment, and leadership have been invaluable to our work at the SEC.”

Berkovitz previously worked as general counsel under Gensler’s leadership at the CFTC between 2009 and 2013. He will be succeeded by Megan Barbero, principal deputy general counsel at the SEC. The SEC didn’t return Blockworks’ request for comment outside of regular working hours.

Berkovitz wasn’t the only CFTC official to have met with the FTX team. Bankman-Fried reportedly sat with CFTC Chairman Rostin Behnam and his team 10 times in the past 14 months, mostly in Washington. 

Their meetings were largely focused on amending a clearinghouse license for LedgerX, according to Behnam’s testimony. In October, Bankman-Fried loudly backed a bill that would give the CFTC increased oversight of crypto spot markets.

The FTX co-founder was arrested in the Bahamas last week and extradited to the US late Wednesday evening, alongside by fraud charges laid by the CFTC and SEC.

He agreed to sign a $250 million bond backed by his parents’ California home, where he will be staying while awaiting trial.

Get the day’s top crypto news and insights delivered to your email every evening. Subscribe to Blockworks’ free newsletter now.

Want alpha sent directly to your inbox? Get degen trade ideas, governance updates, token performance, can’t-miss tweets and more from Blockworks Research’s Daily Debrief.

Can’t wait? Get our news the fastest way possible. Join us on Telegram and follow us on Google News.


upcoming event

MON - WED, MARCH 18 - 20, 2024

Digital Asset Summit (DAS) is returning March 2024. This year’s event will be held in our nation’s capital, where industry leaders, policymakers, and institutional experts will come together to discuss the latest developments and challenges in the ever-evolving world of cryptocurrency. […]

upcoming event

MON - WED, SEPT. 11 - 13, 2023

2022 was a meme.Skeptics danced, believers believed.Eventually, newcomers turned away, drained of liquidity and hope.Now, the tide is shifting and it’s time to rebuild. Permissionless II is the brainchild of Blockworks and Bankless. It’s not just a conference, but a call […]

recent research

Cosmos Hub: ATOM Economic Zone


Replicated Security, the Hub’s Validation-as-a-Service offering that went live in March, is the first step in bringing value accrual to ATOM stakers.



Bitcoin price predictions are meaningless, so let’s expend our prediction energy on something that actually matters


A new complaint against Elon Musk and Tesla alleges that Musk manipulated both bitcoin and dogecoin


Kenya’s central bank doesn’t seem enamored by the idea of a CBDC but hasn’t slammed the door shut yet


Both Ethereum and Solana have enjoyed vibrant DeFi environments, but this has not yet been the case for Cosmos


As Japan takes important step forward on stablecoins, industry participants say, proposed US laws around such crypto assets remain in flux


Stablecoins offer global financial access and on-chain transactions without limitations, while FedNow falls short in terms of utility, global reach and inclusivity