Coinbase Hires Ex-Fannie Mae Top Executive, Denies NY Attorney General’s Charges

Coinbase has appointed finance executive Brian Brooks as its chief legal officer, while previous incumbent Mike Lempres has assumed the position of chief policy officer.

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The largest US cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase, has named former Fannie Mae executive Brian Brooks as its chief legal officer, according to a Medium post published on Wednesday. Brooks is taking over from Mike Lempres, who will now be responsible for managing the company’s government affairs program and leading the Coinbase Political Action Committee.

The new hire comes as Coinbase seeks to expand its compliance and government affairs capabilities given that the cryptocurrency market has come under tighter regulatory supervision. The New York Attorney General’s office said on Tuesday that a number of crypto exchanges, Coinbase among them, were suspected of pervasive conflicts of interest and poor market surveillance. Coinbase was accused of proprietary trading, with the attorney general alleging the company accounted for about 20% of transactions on its platform.

Lempres denied the charges, saying in a Thursday blog post that the operator does not trade on its own platform. He explained that the transactions are conducted by retail clients who use the Coinbase Consumer service.

Brooks previously served as executive vice-president, general counsel, and corporate secretary of mortgage finance giant Fannie Mae, running the legal department and the government relations unit. Brooks also acted as senior advisor to the board and the CEO of the company. Prior to joining Fannie Mae, he worked for California-based OneWest Bank, where he held the position of vice-chairman and led the bank’s legal department. He also played a central part in the company’s regulatory relationships and later helped sell it to CIT Group.

Brian Armstrong (CEO), Brian Brooks (Chief Legal Officer), and Asiff Hirji (President & COO)

Commenting on the addition of Brooks to the team, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said:

“His arrival is part of our effort to expand our legal, compliance and government affairs capabilities as we head into this next chapter for the company and the cryptocurrency industry as a whole.”

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