Coinbase Policy Officer Leaves as Another Executive Leads Quest For Legitimacy

Lempres saw his responsibilities dwindle after Coinbase hired former BNY Mellon's Jeff Horowitz.

Coinbase’s policy officer, Michael Lempres, has resigned from his newly-created role and parted ways with the US largest cryptocurrency exchange, ending a two-year tenure.

Lempres saw his responsibilities dwindle after Coinbase brought in former managing director and chief compliance officer of a BNY Mellon subsidiary, Jeff Horowitz. As a result of Horowitz’s hire, Coinbase has changed the role of Lempres, who until then served as chief legal and risk officer, to more exclusively focus on the cryptocurrency exchange’s government relations efforts.

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This appears to have been the calculation taken by Lempres, who previously worked for Bitcoin startup Bitnet in 2015. There, he got a closer look at the rapidly changing crypto industry as general counsel, corporate secretary, and chief compliance officer.

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Mike Lempres
Mike Lempres

He stayed with Bitnet until its 2016 sale to Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten, which went on to launch a cryptocurrency of its own.

Push Into Cryptocurrency Custody

During his term with Coinbase, Lempres was tasked with legal, risk, compliance, government affairs, corporate governance, and banking relationships. Lempres worked to help make cryptocurrency more appetizing to risk-averse institutional investors, his LinkedIn profile shows. But it is perhaps Horowitz’s regulatory experience, working with several US regulators, that made him most attractive to the San Francisco-based company.

Coinbase’s rush to Horowitz also relates to its latest push into cryptocurrency custody solutions. Specifically, Horowitz served most recently as head of compliance at Pershing — a BNY Mellon subsidiary that specializes in clearing, custody, and settlement. Before that he helped manage the company’s AML programs as the firm’s chief compliance officer.

Commenting on his departure, Coinbase said in an email to Bloomberg News: “As chief legal and risk officer during a time of tremendous growth for Coinbase, Mike was instrumental in building the company’s legal and compliance functions and driving our vision of trust through compliance. We wish him the best in his new position with Andreessen Horowitz.”

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