JPMorgan Chase has hired embattled crypto lending firm Celsius’ former head of regulatory affairs, Aaron Iovine, as the bank’s executive director of digital assets regulatory policy, according to LinkedIn.
Iovine’s role signals a potential about-face in the perspective of JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, who told lawmakers last month that he was “a major skeptic” of crypto and called such assets “dangerous” and “decentralized Ponzi schemes.”
“The notion that’s good for anybody,” he said, “is unbelievable.”
Dimon’s crypto skepticism is hardly new. As recently as 2017, Dimon, called Bitcoin “a fraud” and said he would fire “in a second” anyone at JPMorgan found to be trading in the digital currency.
Nonetheless, the nation’s largest bank has forged ahead in digital assets, extending banking services to crypto firms Coinbase and Gemini in April 2020.
Iovine joins JPMorgan after an eight-month stint at Celsius that ended in September. The company filed for bankruptcy in July amid market turmoil that included a nosedive in the value of Bitcoin, the collapse of major tokens TerraUSD and Luna, and the bankruptcy of competitor Voyager Digital.
Iovine began the year as head of policy and regulatory affairs at Cross River Bank, where he served since 2019. His team at Cross River lobbied Congress on “general issues focused on financial services, fintech partnerships and the Paycheck Protection Program,” according to a filing seen by Bloomberg Law.
JPMorgan appears to be further growing out its digital asset-focused legal team. The bank posted an opening this month for a New York City-based digital assets counsel position.
A spokesperson for JPMorgan confirmed Iovine’s hire to Reuters, but declined to provide more details.
Iovine did not respond to a request for comment by press time, but his new position makes clear that his experience with Celsius, in spite of its tumult, didn’t sour him to crypto.
The same might not be said for Celsius’ former investment manager, Jason Stone, who sued the company in July, and compared it to a Ponzi scheme.
“As customers sought to withdraw their ether deposits, Celsius was forced to buy ether in the open market at historically high prices, suffering heavy losses,” Stone said. “Faced with a liquidity crisis, Celsius began to offer double-digit interest rates in order to lure new depositors, whose funds were used to repay earlier depositors and creditors.”