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Crypto Firm FTX.US Nabs New Top Lawyer From Sullivan & Cromwell

Aug. 3, 2021, 5:45 PM

West Realm Shires Services Inc., operator of upstart cryptocurrency exchange FTX.US, announced Tuesday its hire of Sullivan & Cromwell partner Ryne Miller as general counsel, bolstering its C-suite and adding legal expertise as U.S. financial regulators consider new rules for digital assets.

Miller joins FTX after eight years in private practice in New York at Sullivan & Cromwell, where he made partner in 2019 and most recently co-chaired the law firm’s commodities, futures, and derivatives practice. FTX was valued at $18 billion in late July after closing a $900 million financing round.

“I have spent my career in trading and markets,” Miller said in a company statement announcing his hire. “We will be working alongside U.S. regulators to bring regulated digital asset markets to U.S. customers.”

Miller didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about his new role at FTX, a digital assets platform that has grown rapidly since its launch two years ago by Sam Bankman-Fried, a prominent cryptocurrency trader.

Bankman-Fried, founder and CEO of FTX, spoke this year with Bloomberg News about his expanding cryptocurrency empire.

Prior to joining Sullivan & Cromwell as an associate in late 2013, Miller was lead counsel for Gary Gensler when the latter served as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in Washington.

Gensler is now the top securities regulator in the U.S. as the new head of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a key role that puts him in a position to determine how cryptocurrencies are regulated.

Gensler recently toldBloomberg News that he feels cryptocurrencies need more regulatory oversight to protect investors from fraud.

FTX president Brett Harrison said in a statement that Miller’s financial services and public service background will help the company navigate a new regulatory landscape for digital assets.

“His industry expertise and leadership will be critical as we forge cooperative working relationships with U.S. regulators amid the expansion of our businesses,” Harrison said. “We share with them the desire to establish digital assets as a safe and reliable investment vehicle, and with Ryne we are confident we will serve as a helpful resource in achieving this goal.”

Sullivan & Cromwell chairman Joseph Shenker in a statement wished Miller well. “We very much look forward to continuing to work with Ryne and FTX.US,” he said.

Public records show that Fenwick & West has done trademark work for FTX. Fenwick also advised FTX in July on its $900 million Series B fundraising that valued the Hong Kong-based company at $18 billion.

Miller isn’t the only legal and compliance expert hired by FTX this year.

In March, FTX added former UBS AG compliance officer Alfarida Mohammed to be senior vice president of compliance for its U.S. arm.

Adrian Guye, a former UBS director who previously worked at Milbank in London, joined FTX as a deputy general counsel late last year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com
Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com

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