08 April 2020

Around the house: Kraken appoints crypto currency pioneer as CLO

Marco Santori joins top bitcoin exchange; Eastman Chemical and Emirates Airlines also make key legal appointments

By Roman Edwards

Pic of Emirates and Kraken

Kraken and Emirates are among the major companies to have made senior in-house appointments Shutterstock

Leading crypto currency lawyer Marco Santori has joined San Francisco-based bitcoin exchange Kraken as its chief legal officer. The former Cooley and Pillsbury Winthrop partner is making the move from Blockchain.com. Dubbed ‘the dean of digital currency lawyers’ by American Banker, he is credited with playing a leading role helping to shape the legal and regulatory environment governing crypto currencies. He advises the International Monetary Fund, is the Blockchain Ambassador to the State of Delaware and chaired the regulatory affairs committee of the Bitcoin Foundation. “Put simply: if it wasn’t for the work of the early crypto lawyers, digital currencies would be illegal in the US and most of the world,” he said in an interview on Kraken’s website. “In the early days of crypto law, most regulators and policymakers struggled to find any redeeming qualities in decentralised value networks. Our work over the years has not only communicated the potential for these technologies, but also guided reasonable new policymaking that will foster their growth.”

Kellye Walker is set to become the chief legal officer and executive vice president of Eastman Chemical next week (13 April). She replaces Clark Jordan, who has operated as the interim chief legal officer of the global specialty chemical company since 1 August 2019. Jordan will remain with the firm as a member of senior management and a “key leader of our organisation”, according to CEO and board chairman Mark Costa. He added: “Kellye brings tremendous experience after serving for over 18 years as chief legal officer of other companies in various industries”. Walker is approaching three decades of legal experience and makes the move from Huntingdon Ingalls Industries, America’s largest shipbuilding company and government services provider with more than 39,000 employees, where she also served as chief legal officer and executive vice president from 2015. Previous roles include GC at American Water and Diageo North America.

Regions Financial has named Tara Ann Plimpton as its senior executive vice president and general counsel, to manage its legal, government affairs, and corporate governance departments. She replaces Boots Gale, who moves to a senior advisory role at the Alabama bank before a scheduled retirement later this year. Plimpton arrives from a 17-year term at General Electric, where she was GC for a variety of departments including: transportation; sensing and inspection and global operations. Whilst GC for global operations, Plimpton managed a team of 450 lawyers running critical compliance, trade, IP labour, and transactional support for GE globally. Plimpton will report directly to president and CEO John Turner, who said: “Tara brings extensive legal and operational experience in highly complex and regulated industries to Regions.” 

Shahreyar Nawabi has been promoted to SVP of legal, compliance, and privacy of Emirates Airlines. In his broadened role Nawabi will lead and manage Emirates' legal teams globally, support the airline’s corporate and commercial strategy, and manage Emirates’ risk management and data handling in his continued capacity as the company’s data privacy officer. The promotion reflects the growing complexities of global compliance with regard to compliance and privacy. Abdulaziz Al Ali, Emirates’ executive VP of human resources, said: “Shahreyar’s counsel and contribution to many of our critical business activities has been invaluable, most notably his leadership in the set-up and management of our data privacy office. We look forward to Shahreyar’s continued contributions to Emirates in his expanded role.” Nawabi served as chief legal officer of the Investment Corporation of Dubai from 2008 to 2012, before joining Emirates as VP of legal. He worked out of London and Dubai as a managing associate of Linklaters LLP from 2005 to 2008, having completed his Bachelor’s in Law from Oxford in 1998 and a Masters in Law from the University of London in 2000. 

US property Information, marketing, and analytics services provider CoStar Group has promoted Jaye Campbell and Jeannette Koonce to general counsel and chief compliance officer respectively. Campbell is to be responsible for leading the legal team and overseeing all legal affairs, whilst Koonce will oversee risk management and corporate governance. Koonce has completed more than 25 domestic and international acquisitions, expanding the firm's market cap from $750m to $25bn in her 14 years at the company. Prior to her arrival at CoStar as deputy general counsel in 2006, Koonce was an associate at Venable. Campbell joined Costar in 2013 from her position as associate at Drinker Biddle & Reath to head up the litigation department. At CoStar, Campbell led the team which achieved a $500m judgment in the company’s favour - the most valuable judgment for infringement of copyrighted images ever. “Both Jaye and Jeannette possess remarkable expertise and leadership that is invaluable to the continued growth and success of our organisation,” said founder and CEO Andrew Florance.

San Diego-based Wireless charging startup Aira has appointed Jeffrey Risher as its inaugural chief strategy officer and general counsel. The role will encompass leadership over Aira’s business development, strategy, IP strategy, legal matters, and partnerships. Risher’s background includes positions at Faraday Future, Tesla, and Apple. Aira founders Jake Slatnick and Eric Goodchild pitched their company to a panel of entrepreneurs on the US TV show Shark Tank. Slatnick said: “We are excited to welcome Jeff to Aira as he brings a wealth of experience and proven judgment in areas that are critical to our growth and success.”

Perry McGuire has joined Rinnai as VP and general counsel. The Japanese multinational manufactures gas appliances and makes the top-selling brand of tankless gas water heaters in the US, where McGuire will be based. McGuire leaves Smith Gambrell & Russell, where he held responsibilities in corporate law, franchise law, and governmental affairs during his eight-year tenure. McGuire was a state senator for Georgia from 1993 to 1996 and candidate for the position of attorney general of Georgia in 2006. Frank Windsor, president of Rinnai America, said: “His extensive business and legal experience will help to facilitate the aggressive growth plans we have for Rinnai America Corporation." 

Ishita Kapur has become the general counsel and head of compliance at wellness company RoundGlass. She makes the move from Diageo, which she joined in 2014 as senior counsel, working out of Mumbai. Prior to that Kapur was a senior associate at Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co for seven years. She graduated from ILS Law College in Pune in 2007. Founded by Gurpreet ‘Sunny’ Singh, to whom Kapur will report directly, Roundglass seeks to create 'a vibrant wellness ecosystem, bringing technology and human energy together’.

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