CFTC requests big budget increase to tackle ‘historic volatility’

Combatting cyber risk a focus in request for financing.

CFTC chair Rostin Benham has called for a 21.6% increase in the budget the regulator is allocated. If granted, that would be a $46m rise to $411m.

He said the increase was needed to “permit the Commission to maintain and enhance its oversight and enforcement function over the U.S. derivatives markets at a time of historic volatility, demonstrable resilience, rapid growth, and transformative innovation”. He pointed out the influence of technology on the commodity and futures sector as an important rationale for additional funding, in particular the emergence and growth of new digital asset classes – namely cryptocurrencies.

Speaking to a House of Representatives subcommittee, Benham also highlighted the need to boost cybersecurity support and back efforts to hire “a highly skilled contract cyber workforce capable of leveraging state-of-the-art technologies”.

He said: “Cyber risk has emerged as a top risk to the agency, the persons and entities we regulate, and the third-party service providers who support all aspects of the derivatives ecosystems.” Echoing the words of Andrea Enria, Chair of the ECB Supervisory Board, Bentham indicated that attacks are not only increasing daily, but also “growing in speed and sophistication”, and increasingly represent a real threat to the financial system as a whole.

Market integrity

Benham wants the Division of Enforcement to get $70.6m of the funding to “protect the public and preserve market integrity by detecting, investigating and prosecuting violations of the CEA and CFTC regulations”.

The Division of Market Oversight would get $36.1m of the total, the Division of Clearing and Risk $35m, and the Markets Participants Division $28.4m. The total number of full-time equivalent staff posts would be 764.

The subcommittee heard that in the 2022 financial year, “the CFTC obtained orders imposing over $2.5bn in restitution, disgorgement and civil monetary penalties either through settlement or litigation, nearly eight times the total of our FY22 appropriation”.

The full text of the speech is available on the CTC website.