Heath Tarbert

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Heath Tarbert
Heath Tarbert.jpg
Occupation Commissioner
Employer Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Location Washington D.C.

Heath Tarbert is a commissioner and former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. He was confirmed by the US Senate on June 5, 2019 and officially started as the agency's 14th chairman on July 15, 2019, succeeding Chris Giancarlo.[1][2]

He was nominated for a term expiring on April 13, 2024 but retired from the chairmanship in January 2021.[3] He also steps down as a commissioner effective March 5, 2021. [4]

While at the CFTC, Tarbert continued the legacy of "crypto-dad" J. Christopher Giancarlo in his friendliness to cryptocurrency. He confirmed in 2019 that the CFTC considered bitcoin a commodity rather than a security, and he additionally declared his view that ether is a commodity as well.[5]


Before joining the CFTC, Tarbert was acting under secretary for international affairs at the US Department of the Treasury, starting in April 2019. He was sworn in as assistant secretary for international markets in October 2017. As under secretary, he was responsible for US interests in multilateral organizations on financial stability and regulatory issues. He also was tasked with promoting growth, negotiating trade agreements and advocating for standards for US firms.[6]

He is a member of the Financial Stability Board (FSB) and serves on FSB’s Steering Committee, plus all three of its Standing Committees. He is also co-chair of the U.S.-EU Financial Regulatory Forum and U.S.-UK Financial Regulatory Working Group. He also led delegations at the G7 and G20 financial ministers and central bank governors deputies tracks, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Financial Ministerial. He also facilitated investments in energy and infrastructure overseas, plus managed private-sector growth in more than 40 countries, and is a member of the Domestic Finance Council.

He also served as policy chair of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which promotes U.S. investments while protecting national security.

As acting under secretary, he also served as acting U.S. executive director on the board of the World Bank Group from 2017 to 2018.

Prior to his US Treasury service, he was a partner at Allen & Overy, in its global financial regulatory practice. He also served as a special counsel to the Senate Banking Committee, associate counsel to President George W. Bush and a law clerk to Chief Judge Douglas Ginsberg of the US Court of Appeals of the DC Circuit and Justice Clarence Thomas of the US Supreme Court.

Kraft Food and Mondelez Global legal flap[edit]

Just weeks after taking the chairman's spot at the CFTC, Tarbert was called to testify about statements made following a CFTC settlement with Kraft Foods Group and Mondelez Global LLC. The two companies agreed to pay $16 million to settle wheat market manipulation charges on August 15, 2019. [7]

Tarbert, along with Commissioners Dan Berkovitz and Rostin Behnam, were ordered by the U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey in August 2019 to testify about statements made following the settlement. It was an unusual step in the case, as it is unprecedented for a CFTC chairman to be called into court. Kraft and Mondelez argued that Tarbert, Berkovitz and Behnam violated the agreement with the CFTC with follow-up statements issued after the settlement. The settlement included an unconventional provision that prohibited parties in the case from making public comments about it beyond information in public records. Tarbert, Berkovitz and Behnam each issued press releases following the settlement, which Kraft and Mondelez said violated the agreement. The court hearing was set for September 12, 2019.[8]


Ahead of any official statements or relevant actions by the CFTC, on October 10, 2019, Tarbert told the Yahoo! Finance All Markets Summit, "It is my view as chairman of the CFTC that Ether is a commodity.” He said that the CFTC was working with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on bitcoin and they both agreed that neither are securities. He also told the audience that the CFTC was ready to approve Ether futures.[9] Later that month, Tarbert said at DC Fintech Week that a security can turn into a commodity, and vice versa.[10] Despite his earlier statements about Ether being a commodity, Tarbert told CoinDesk’s November 2020 Invest: NYC conference the CFTC and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) were both “thinking carefully” about the upcoming Ethereum 2.0 upgrade which will replace the coin’s current proof-of-work (PoW) model.[11]


He earned his Bachelors of Science degree from Mount St. Mary’s University, his Juris Doctorate and SJD from the University of Pennsylvania, and his Doctor of Philosophy from Oxford University where he was a Thouron Scholar.


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