08 May 2020
Recent additions to Libra’s core team might imply a willingness to abide by the current legal and financial guidelines, experts believe.
After the major revision in mid-April to its white paper, the Libra Association made a few surprising hirings into its core governance team over the past couple of weeks. With Robert Werner as its general counsel, who held a number of top leadership positions at financial firms such as Goldman Sachs, HSBC and Merrill Lynch, as well as the former director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), and Stuart Levey, who was the chief legal officer for HSBC Holdings, as its CEO.
As if that wasn't enough of a surprise, one of Singapore’s two investment companies backed by the government, Temasek, who claims to have a $219 billion financial portfolio, also joined the Association, in addition to a crypto investment company from San Fransisco, Paradigm Fund, and a private equity firm titled Slow Ventures.
By these moves, the Libra Association clearly indicated to the global crypto community that its native digital offering, the Libra token, will be pushing strongly to the growing global crypto market.
A Libra spokesperson stated, in light of the recent additions to the Libra team, that hiring Werner and Levey was the right move in the direction of regulation, financial crime compliance and enforcement, given the vast knowledge that the two of them possess on the matter. The deputy CEO of Temasek, Chia Song Hwee, similarly said: “Our participation in the Libra Association as a member will allow us to contribute towards a regulated global network for cost effective retail payments.”
What are the real intentions behind Libra’s moves? Following the previously mentioned announcements, the Libra Association’s plans with the Libra token and its mainstream deployment has raised a number of questions, especially about the legitimization of Libra's endeavors in order to attract investors globally.
As the CEO of Bison Trails, a blockchain firm that is a part of the Libra Association, Joe Lallouz opined that hiring two prominent financial executives is a great way for the association to move the Libra project forward while strengthening its independence. He added that their expertise might bring Libra swiftly in line with the regulations in every part of the world.
Regarding Temasek, Paradigm Fund and Slow Ventures inclusions to the Libra family, Lallouz adds, it is surely going to bring the blockchain and crypto industry as a whole closer to the general public and the traditional financing sector, since these firms already have a substantial presence on the market, as well as an overall reach. He further stated:
“Adding Temasek brings a new scale and type of investor, in particular from a geography where the Libra Association isn’t as well represented. Having a firm like Temasek be on board is a very strong benefit to the Libra Association and the project’s global reach and impact.”
Reuben Yap, who is the privacy-first digital currency Zcoin's (XZC) project steward, stated that Werner and Levey joining the Libra team signifies that Libra is taking giant steps towards a pro-regulatory and compliance-centered modus operandi, as a glimpse into their past accomplishments reveals their expertise in dealing with and overcoming issues that the cryptocurrency market had trouble with for a long time. In Yap's own words:
“Prior to FinCEN, Robert Werner was director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which is the body tasked with enforcing economic and trade sanctions. Stuart Levey also was the first Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI) with the U.S. Treasury, where during his tenure the TFI was tasked with cutting off funding to terrorist organizations. He also played a key role especially in designing strategies that put pressure on Iran’s economy and isolated it from the international financial system further.”
But again, Libra’s new core team members did not have everyone nod in agreement. Such as the co-founder and CEO of Kadena, a blockchain interoperability firm, Will Martino stated that the addition of the two executives may be nothing more than “professional hires” who were brought in only for Libra to build a financial service so conventional that it's “nothing more than a credit card with a dash of crypto for flare.”
Martino, who was the tech lead for the Securities and Exchange Commission's Cryptocurrency Steering Committee, also helped JPMorgan Chase to build Juno, it's first blockchain. He further stated: “Even Facebook has finally understood the U.S. Gov/SEC’s extremely clear position — if you’re a large tech company, you MAY NOT launch a cryptocurrency.”