July 21, 2014 / 10:22 PM / 5 years ago

Commissioner O'Malia to leave U.S. CFTC swaps watchdog

Commodity Futures Trading Commissioner Scott O'Malia appears at the Reuters Financial Regulation Summit in Washington April 28, 2014. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Commissioner Scott O’Malia said on Monday he intends to leave the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, creating a vacancy just a short while after Chairman Tim Massad took over at the derivatives regulator.

O’Malia, a Republican, said he intended to resign as of Aug. 8, 2014, after roughly 4.5 years as a member of the five-strong commission. He did not disclose his future plans.

“While I find this position to be professionally fulfilling, I believe it is time to pursue other opportunities,” O’Malia said in a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama.

The CFTC, which regulates swaps and futures markets, took an aggressive approach under previous Chairman Gary Gensler in writing dozens of new rules after the 2007-09 financial crisis.

O’Malia was often critical of the policy, particularly of the way in which the CFTC applied its rules to foreign entities, an issue bank groups are now fighting in court and that has caused a row with international regulators.

A staffer for Senator Mitch McConnell - now the Senate Minority leader - from 1992 to 2001, O’Malia focused on energy policy during much of his career. Before joining the CFTC, he was the staff director at the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.

At the CFTC, he chaired the Technology Advisory Committee, which drives the agency’s efforts to better cope with the vast amount of data it has to deal with. One of the issues the committee worked on was high-frequency trading.

The Commission had only come back to full strength last month, when Massad was sworn in, followed by Sharon Bowen, a Democrat and Chris Giancarlo, a Republican. Mark Wetjen, a Democrat, is the fifth commissioner.

Reporting by Douwe Miedema; Editing by Chris Reese and Andre Grenon

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