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Trump to nominate CFTC acting head Giancarlo as permanent chairman

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump plans to nominate J. Christopher Giancarlo to lead the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the regulator tasked with policing the massive over-the-counter derivatives market, the White House said on Tuesday.

Giancarlo, a Republican, has been acting chairman of the CFTC since Jan. 20 and was widely expected to be tapped for the permanent position of chairman. He became a CFTC commissioner in 2014.

The nomination comes just one day before Giancarlo is expected to give a major policy address at the annual Futures Industry Association conference in Boca Raton, Florida, where he plans to lay out his regulatory vision for the agency.

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The CFTC won broad new powers from the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law to regulate the swaps market, which until then had been largely unpoliced.

Giancarlo previously served as executive vice president of financial services group GFI Group Inc. Throughout his tenure as a CFTC commissioner, Giancarlo has been critical of the way the agency has implemented many of the new rules required by Dodd-Frank.

He issued a white paper in 2015, for instance, which accused the CFTC's regulatory framework of driving global traders away from the United States, fragmenting the marketplace and increasing liquidity risk.

He has dissented on a number of other major policy areas, including a proposal requiring automated traders to hand over sensitive code without a subpoena - something Giancarlo said "would strip owners of intellectual property of due process of law."

As chairman, Giancarlo is likely to focus his energy on scaling back rules that he believes are overly burdensome to help boost economic growth - a vision that is also shared by Jay Clayton, Trump's pick to head the CFTC's sister regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In a speech Monday before the Institute of International Bankers, Giancarlo criticized those who have dwelled heavily on preventing a repeat of the financial crisis, saying the impact has been to "sideline capital from productive uses."

If confirmed as chairman, however, Giancarlo could face some initial challenges getting his agenda adopted.

Currently, the five-member panel is down to two commissioners - Giancarlo and Sharon Bowen, a Democrat. If the two disagree on a decision, the measure cannot pass.

Giancarlo acknowledged this challenge in his speech Monday, saying the agency cannot proceed on a controversial position limits rule without a full commission.

Trump has not yet nominated anyone for the remaining three positions.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by Eric Walsh; Editing by Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler)