Libra appoints HSBC veteran to manage crypto project's operational wing

The Libra Association has appointed HSBC veteran James Emmett as managing director of its subsidiary firm, Libra Networks LLC.

James Emmet spent 25 years at HSBC and is a former colleague of the Libra Association’s new CEO, former HSBC chief legal officer Stuart Levey. Levey is also the former Under Secretary for Terrorism under the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama

Emmett has held multiple roles in his long career at HSBC, most recently working as group general manager.

In an official statement, Levey underscored Emmett’s extensive experience as a financial services executive “with deep substantive expertise and operational experience.” He said he believes Emmett’s leadership will “help make Libra’s vision a reality.”

The Libra Association, of which Facebook is a member, is an independent membership organization based in Geneva created to govern the Libra stablecoin network. 

Libra Networks is responsible for developing and operating the cryptocurrency payments system, and was originally established as a Facebook subsidiary in May 2019. Ownership of the firm was later transferred to the Libra Association in October of that year.

The horizon for Libra remains uncertain, with leading European countries last week doubling down on their pledge to prevent global stablecoins from operating in the European Union before all legal, regulatory and oversight matters have been comprehensively addressed. 

Facebook’s initiative for a private-sector global stablecoin was first unveiled in June 2019. The project has galvanized central banks worldwide to look more seriously into the prospective issuance of central bank digital currencies in a bid to preserve the centrality of central bank money in the financial system.

In response to the global pushback against the project, the Libra Association revamped its original whitepaper in a bid to assuage regulators but has signalled an unfazed commitment to making an eventual foray into digital payments. 

Prior to Emmett and Levey’s appointments, the Association hired high-profile figures with experience in the U.S. government, leading experts in financial compliance and lobbyists.

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