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Facebook Libra taps ex-OCC exec as lead counsel

The Libra Association has announced Saumya Bhavsar as the general counsel for its payment subsidiary, Libra Networks. Bhavsar joins Libra after decades of experience in the banking and public sector, including eight years at the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

The association announced the appointment recently, describing her as “a skilled industry leader with experience shaping and managing global and regional financial services organizations through periods of significant strategic change.”

In her new role, Bhavsar now faces the Herculean task of steering the Libra Networks through the regulatory requirements that have impeded its growth for over a year. Libra Networks is a subsidiary of the Libra Association and is in charge of Facebook’s Libra payment system.

Since its announcement in June 2019, Libra has faced ceaseless opposition, especially from regulators. A year later, Facebook revealed it had decided to change its approach, launching ‘Libra 2.0’. This did little to win over regulators. However, Facebook has yet to give in and has continued to make changes, including establishing an ‘all things payments’ group, Facebook Financial.

Bhavsar is hoping to change this, stating in her remarks that she is out to enable a more inclusive global financial system. She added:

“Along with many in the banking industry, I have been watching the Libra project from afar and believe the Libra payment system is poised to transform the industry and enable unprecedented financial innovation and inclusion at a time when we need it most.”

Bhavsar will bring over two decades of experience in regulation and compliance to Libra Networks. She previously served as the global head of regulatory affairs at Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse. She has also worked at UBS in the legal and wealth management department and at Euroclear Bank as the assistant general counsel.

Bhavsar has also worked in the public sector, having served at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) for close to a decade. She was in charge of enforcement actions and ensuring banks comply with federal banking laws.

Bhavsar becomes the latest former public official to join the Facebook digital currency project. Three months ago, former Homeland Security general counsel Stevan Bunnell joined the Libra Association as the chief legal officer.

Despite the new hires in compliance and legal divisions, Libra still faces great opposition from regulators. Last month, G7 leaders revealed their anti-Libra stance hasn’t changed, stating that it must not launch until it’s properly regulated.

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