Just before Americans began their Fourth of July holiday, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Division of Enforcement Director announced that the division has established two key task forces: the Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies and the Environmental Fraud Task Force.1 Both task forces will be staffed with attorneys and investigators across the Division of Enforcement with the goal of serving as subject matter experts and prosecuting cases. As a result, CFTC registrants should be prepared for heightened focus on cybersecurity and environmental fraud, particularly in the derivatives and relevant spot markets.
Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies Task Force
The release provides that the Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies Task Force will address cybersecurity and emerging technologies issues, including artificial intelligence. Specifically, the release states that CFTC will be looking at its registrants to ensure that they have sufficient cybersecurity controls, including controls surrounding customer information and system safeguards. Notably, the release informs CFTC registrants that the task force will explore the role that emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning may play in violations of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) and CFTC regulations. In addition, the task force will focus on ensuring that registrants adequately supervise their use of emerging technologies.
As a result of the Division of Enforcement’s rollout of this task force, CFTC registrants should look closely at their current state of play with respect to cybersecurity, their use and/or anticipated use of artificial intelligence, and its application toward compliance with the CEA and the CFTC regulations.
Environmental Fraud Task Force
The release notes that as more CFTC registrants tout their environmental credentials and as voluntary carbon markets grow, there is an increased risk of fraud and manipulation. As a result, the Environmental Fraud Task Force will focus on fraud and manipulation in carbon credit markets and other forms of greenwashing, including misrepresentations about environmental, social, and governmental (ESG) investment strategies. The task force will focus this effort not only in regulated derivatives markets but also relevant spot markets (e.g., voluntary carbon credit markets). The focus will be on fraud related to purported environmental benefits of purchase carbon credits and CFTC registrants’ material misrepresentations regarding ESG products and services.
As a result of this task force’s formation, it will be important for registrants and others to look closely at their practices that surround its focus, including any representations made related to ESG products or services.
The Division of Enforcement’s effort to stand up two new task forces will certainly have implications for CFTC registrants, including potential document and information requests for the division to begin gathering sufficient information to make assessments surrounding potential gaps and/or concerns in cybersecurity, emerging technology, and environmental programming.
1 CFTC, Release No. 8736-23 (CFTC Division of Enforcement Creates Two New Task Forces), June 29, 2023 (available here).
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