Celo, the company working on mobile-friendly cryptocurrency payments tool has hired a former U.S. government official and bank executive to head up its global regulatory, risk and compliance matters.
Jai Ramaswamy was recruited by Celo Labs to bring his extensive anti-money-laundering (AML) and financial crime detection experience to the firm, the company announced today.
Ramaswamy was most recently the head of enterprise risk management at Capital One, where he focused on the bank’s international risk exposure. Before that, he was managing director and global head of AML compliance risk management at Bank of America.
“I’m interested in helping [Celo Labs] understand its overall risk profile,” Ramaswamy said.
Before his stint in the private sector, Ramaswamy was the chief of asset forfeiture and money laundering at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he led the prosecution of financial institutions for money laundering and sanctions violations.
He represented the DOJ on illicit financial issues affecting national security, including engagement with the U.S. Treasury Department, law enforcement, the intelligence community and financial regulators.
He also led the DOJ’s efforts to monitor virtual currency use by transnational criminal organizations and to prosecute the facilitation of criminal activity by exchanges.
This experience gives Celo Labs the advantage of being able to understand not only the DOJ but also the many different U.S. financial regulators that work with the DOJ to tackle financial crime, Ramaswamy said.
“The industry is trying to figure out how to deal with this technology in ways that traditional regulation has potentially not thought about or where principles have to be extended in areas that are somewhat novel,” he said. “There’s always a give and take in extending rules that exist over new tech versus thinking through a new regulation that‘s required.
Celo Labs has attracted notable talent before. It added Circle’s former head of financial institution partnerships Chuck Kimble in February as head of strategic partnership, and former Ripple general counsel Brynly Llyr joined in the same role in September.
There are more than 60 contributors to the Celo project globally, including the World Bank Group and the UN; tech firms like Google, Square, Microsoft and Apple; financial companies such as PayPal and Morgan Stanley; and academics from MIT, Stanford, Harvard and Berkeley.
Up to $25 million has been raised by the company from venture capitalists.