Facebook’s digital currency project Libra names HSBC’s chief legal officer as first CEO

Stuart Levey: "Technology gives us the ability to … empower more than a billion people who have stayed on the sidelines."

Stuart Levey will join the Libra Association this summer to address regulatory concerns about the currency

Stuart Levey, HSBC's Chief Legal Officer, has been appointed CEO of the Libra Association, a group of private companies that support Facebook's digital currency project.

Levey will join the association as the first managing director in the summer and is faced with the immediate challenge of reviving a project that has stalled in the face of continued opposition from policy makers and regulators.

Levey said: “It is an honor to join the Libra Association because it is a brave way forward to use the power of technology to change the global payments landscape. The technology gives us the ability to make it easier for individuals and businesses to send and receive money, and to enable more than a billion people on the fringes of the financial system to identify illegal finance and deter activity. "

While Levey has spent the past eight years as HSBC's global chief of law, he was previously under Secretary of State of the Treasury Department for Terrorism and Financial Information under the presidencies of George Bush and Barack Obama. Its anti-financial crime experience could help the association assure politicians and regulators that the Libra is not the preferred currency for criminals and money launderers.

Katie Haun, board member of the Libra Association and general partner of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, said: “Stuart brings the Libra Association the rare combination of an accomplished leader both in the government, in which he enjoyed non-partisan respect and influence, and in private Sector there, he led teams around the world. This unique experience enables him to bring a wealth of banking, finance, regulatory and national security knowledge to the association and find the right balance between innovation and regulation. "

Last month, the Libra Association confirmed speculation that it intended to reverse its vision of a single global coin-backed coin and instead issue a variety of currency-backed coins such as Libra dollars or Libra pounds. The association plans to launch the coins by the end of this year.

The political backlash against the Libra has already resulted in some original union members leaving the project, including Visa, Mastercard, Paypal, eBay and Stripe. Central bankers are also concerned that a digital currency like the Libra could affect monetary policy effectiveness.

Levey joined HSBC in January 2012 as it struggled to rebuild its reputation after a series of pre-financial acquisitions resulted in a multi-billion dollar procession of fines and settlements. He headed a legal department with more than 900 lawyers in 50 countries.

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