Citadel Securities, the US market maker owned by billionaire Ken Griffin, has chosen Heath Tarbert, the former head of the main US derivatives regulator, to become its new general counsel.
Tarbert left on Commodity Futures Trading Commission just 27 days ago, after stepping down as president after an 18-month term.
Citadel Securities’ announcement on Thursday marked the latest in a long list of hires for U.S. regulators by Griffin. Tarbert replaces Steve Luparello, General Counsel of Citadel Securities, who is former director of the Securities and Exchange Commission trading and markets division.
Griffin also hired Gregg Berman, the former SEC research chief who examined the role of high-frequency trading in the world’s largest stock market, as well as Ryan VanGrack, who was an advisor to the former president of the SEC Mary Jo White, among others.
The move has stirred up accusations of a so-called revolving door from public service to private work.
“This is just the latest regrettable example of a senior government official selling his public service to big business,” said Dennis Kelleher, chairman of advocacy group Better Markets. “This corruption disgusts the American people and Congress should ban it.”
Shawn Fagan, General Counsel of Citadel, the hedge fund also owned by Griffin, said in a statement that “Heath has significant leadership experience and legal expertise, as well as a commitment to championing competitive, transparent and resilient markets.” .
Under Tarbert, the CFTC set several law enforcement records, including most cases in a fiscal year.
The move to Citadel Securities marks a return to commercial work for Tarbert, who previously held international relations roles at the US Treasury Department and led the banking regulatory practice of Allen & Overy, the law firm.
“Citadel Securities has been one of the main advocates of open and transparent markets,” he said. “I look forward to working with his exceptional team to leverage the company’s track record in creating better markets for investors.
Tarbert joins the firm after its bankruptcy meticulous examination for his position as the largest market maker in the US stock market and his role in the feverish January trading of so-called meme stocks such as GameStop and AMC Entertainment.
The buying and selling became so heavy that some brokers, such as Robinhood, were forced to restrict trading in GameStop stocks, angering clients and high profile politicians.
In February, lawmakers introduced Griffin to Citadel Securities’ business model, in which it attracts thousands of brokerage orders daily, including Robinhood, with some suggesting it causes conflicts of interest.
Griffin’s company executed about 14% of all daily stock trades last month, according to Bloomberg data.
Griffin was joined in his appearance before a congressional hearing by the Managing Director of Robinhood, whose General Counsel is Dan Gallagher, former SEC Commissioner.