US Lawmakers to Visit Switzerland to Discuss Crypto, Facebook’s Libra

As local weekly news outlet NZZ am Sonntag reported on Aug. 17, a six-member delegation from the House Financial Services Committee is going to meet with Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) Adrian Lobsiger to exchange views about digital currencies.

A delegation of the United States House of Representatives will visit Switzerland on cryptocurrency concerns, with Facebook’s not-yet-released stablecoin Libra being in the focus.

A spokesperson told NZZ am Sonntag that Libra will be the focal point of the dialogue between the regulator and U.S. lawmakers. The delegation is led by the chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, Maxine Waters, who previously requested that Facebook halt Libra’s development until the purported risks it poses could be properly understood.

Swiss regulation

The visit from U.S. legislators aims to clarify regulatory issues surrounding Libra. In hearings before the House Financial Services Committee in July, some representatives expressed their discomfort with the coin being regulated from Switzerland.

In the hearings, Facebook’s David Marcus assured Representative Bill Huizenga that Facebook had been in touch with the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority.

The head of communications at the FDPIC, Hugo Wyler, subsequently said that Facebook had not contacted the regulator regarding the registration of its cryptocurrency project. The FDPIC then sent a letter to the Libra Association – the stablecoin’s proposed governing body – asking for details about Libra:

“The FDPIC stated in his letter that as he had not received any indication on what personal data may be processed, the Libra Association should inform him of the current status of the project so that he could assess the extent to which his advisory competences and supervisory powers would apply.”

During a hearing before U.S. House of Representatives in mid-July, Marcus fielded questions as to why the company had chosen to register its Libra Association in Switzerland rather than the U.S. “The choice of Switzerland”, Marcus claimed, had “nothing to do with evading regulations or oversight.” Marcus argued that the jurisdiction is an international place conducive to doing business.

Facebook Hires US Senator’s Former Aide to Lobby for Libra Cryptocurrency

Facebook has hired a former aide to the chairman of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee to lobby for its new Libra cryptocurrency project.

Politico reported on Monday the social media giant recruited Susan Zook of Mason Street Consulting, who previously assisted Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), to a team of lobbyists aiming to influence lawmakers on the Libra initiative. Zook told the publication she would work on lobbying Senate Republicans.

The news comes just weeks after the Senate Banking Committee held a hearing over Facebook’s controversial Libra cryptocurrency and raised questions about its privacy, data protection, and anti-money laundering issues. David Marcus, the firm’s blockchain lead, attended the hearing.

Facebook unveiled the long-anticipated Libra project in June intending to launch a cryptocurrency as a payment tool across global jurisdictions. But several financial regulators have since then raised regulatory concerns over the project’s ambition.

According to Politico’s report, Facebook has spent more than $7.5 million on lobbying efforts this year. In addition to hiring in-house lobbyists, the company is retaining over a dozen third-party lobbying firms to work on the Libra issue, including the Sternhell Group and the Cypress Group.

In June, Facebook reportedly hired Edward Bowles, who was a former senior bank lobbyist from Standard Chartered focusing on group public and regulatory affairs.

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