Former UK chancellor Lord Philip Hammond has joined Copper, a UK group that specialises in cryptocurrency custody and trading, as an adviser becoming one of the best-known political figures to join the fast-growing digital assets industry.
Copper launched in 2018 and provides services to institutional investors, from digital currency asset managers to hedge funds and family offices. The company said it handled more than $50bn in transactions each month on behalf of roughly 400 clients.
During his time as chancellor between 2016 and 2019, Hammond championed Britain’s fintech sector and pushed for better access to capital to help start-ups to expand.
In a statement he said: “The really exciting opportunity lies in the application of [Copper’s digital asset investment] technology to revolutionise the way financial services are delivered.”
Some crypto businesses have criticised the UK government and regulators for holding back innovation with slow and onerous rulemaking.
Dmitry Tokarev, chief executive of Copper, said the company was keen to grow “within a regulatory framework which will allow us to thrive globally from our London headquarters”.
In June, the company received investment from fund manager Alan Howard, who contributed $12.5m to the company’s $75m funding round.
It is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority under the regulator’s temporary regime, which allows UK crypto custody and trading firms to keep operating while the watchdog reviews their policies to tackle money laundering and terrorism financing.
Crypto firms have accelerated their hiring of high-profile figures from the financial and tech sectors this year. Former US Securities and Exchange Commission chair Jay Clayton joined New York-based crypto custodian Fireblocks as an adviser in August.
Hammond quit politics ahead of December 2019’s general election after falling out with Boris Johnson, the prime minister, and the Conservative party over Brexit.
The UK lobbying regulator said earlier this year that it was investigating whether Hammond should have registered as a lobbyist when he contacted a top Treasury official to promote software devised by OakNorth, a bank he advises.
Last month the Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists said that it had accepted Hammond’s argument that his approach fell within an exemption to its rules, and he was cleared of breaching lobbying rules.
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