Former Celsius head of policy and regulatory affairs, Aaron Iovine, jumps ship to JPMorgan Chase & Co. as its new executive director for digital assets regulatory policy.
Less than a month after its CEO Jamie Dimon referred to cryptocurrencies as “decentralized Ponzi schemes,” JPMorgan Chase & Co. has onboarded a new head of digital assets regulatory policy. The new hire is no other than Aaron Iovine, former head of policy and regulatory affairs for the now-bankrupt cryptocurrency lender Celsius Network Ltd.
A spokeswoman for JPMorgan has confirmed that Iovine’s position is a newly created role. Iovine didn’t respond to requests for comment in light of this turn of events.
JPMorgan Is Building its Policy Ranks
Dimon and other bank executives have not held back from voicing their criticisms against digital assets. The bank’s own CEO called himself a “major skeptic on crypto tokens” in a congressional testimony made on September 21, the same time he made the “Ponzi schemes” comment.
It wasn’t the first time that Dimon criticized cryptocurrencies. In January 2014, the 66-year-old billionaire first spoke about Bitcoin not long before the collapse of Mt. Gox. He stated that the world’s largest digital asset was “a terrible store of value” and that the cryptocurrency “can be replicated over and over.”
Dimon has not held back from calling Bitcoin a “fraud” and “fool’s gold” over the years. Still, in 2019, JPMorgan launched the JPM Coin, its own U.S.-dollar-pegged stablecoin. Incidentally, the bank lets its wealth management clients buy into Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum Classic, and even Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) shares.
JPMorgan’s global head of payments, Takis Georgakopoulos, also said last month that he sees “very little” demand for cryptocurrencies as a medium for payment. Still, despite rising regulatory scrutiny and a slump in cryptocurrency values, JPMorgan is seeking to build out its policy ranks in the ever-evolving digital asset space.
Aside from the newly created role for which the bank hired Iovine, JPMorgan is also seeking to fill an opening for the position of digital assets counsel with its corporate and investment bank in New York. The successful applicant will be responsible for various duties, including advising on regulatory and compliance issues, daily business support, and documentation issues related to the bank’s digital assets initiatives.
When asked about the New York-based financial services giant’s keen interest in hiring lawyers well-versed in distributed ledger technologies, Stacey Friedman, who has been with JPMorgan since 2015 as general counsel, declined to comment.
Iovine’s Role in JPMorgan
Celsius Network LLC, a bankrupt cryptocurrency lending company in Hoboken, New Jersey, hired Iovine earlier this year as its head of policy and regulatory affairs. Iovine left his post at Celsius in September, two months after the cryptocurrency rewards-earning and lending platform filed for bankruptcy.
Before working for Celsius, Iovine spent nearly a year working as a senior regulatory analyst at the White & Case law firm. Then, in 2019, he was hired by Cross River, a digital asset-friendly regional lender. There, Iovine led policy and regulatory affairs.
During his stint with Cross River, Iovine became part of the team that lobbied Congress during the first quarter of 2022 on “general issues focused on financial services, fintech partnerships, and the Paycheck Protection Program,” according to a public filing. Incidentally, Cross River recently onboarded Benjamin Melnicki, also an attorney, as its head of cryptocurrency compliance and regulatory.
Iovine’s expertise in “exploring the future of financial services while working at the intersection of law, policy, and regulation” is touted in an online bio.
At JPMorgan, Iovine will work with the regulatory affairs group alongside Sharon Yang, a former Davis Polk & Wardwell senior associate. Yang joined JPMorgan a year ago as its managing director and global head of regulatory affairs.
Yang previously worked as a deputy assistant secretary for international financial markets for the Treasury Department.
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