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SEC general counsel announces departure from public service

Dan Berkovitz, general counsel for the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, said he will be leaving the agency after more than a year.

In a Dec. 22 announcement, the SEC said Berkovitz will depart on Jan. 31. A former commissioner with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Berkovitz joined the agency in November 2021. At the time, he said he planned to work with SEC Chair Gary Gensler on a “regulatory agenda that will enhance investor protection.”

"After thirty-four years of public service, it is time for me to pursue new and different challenges and opportunities," said Berkovitz.

It’s unclear whether Berkovitz intends to join the private sector after leaving the SEC. Brian Quintenz, who served as a CFTC commissioner from 2017 to 2021, joined venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz in September 2021 as an adviser to the company’s crypto team.

Megan Barbero, the SEC‘s principal deputy general counsel, will assume Berkovitz’s position upon his departure. Gensler said her advancement comes at a “critical time” for the SEC.

During his time at the CFTC, Berkovitz said the agency’s enforcement actions in the crypto space were “aggressive,” citing a $100 million civil monetary penalty against derivatives exchange BitMEX. Many have also criticized Gensler and the SEC for the agency’s “regulation by enforcement” approach to crypto.

Related: SEC files unregistered securities charges against Thor Token creators for 2018 ICO

In 2022, the SEC specifically labeled nine tokens as “crypto asset securities” in an insider trading case involving a former manager at crypto exchange Coinbase. The agency has also announced charges against former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried for allegedly defrauding customers and diverting the exchange’s funds to Alameda.

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