Former chancellor George Osborne joins crypto exchange Coinbase as adviser

Former chancellor George Osborne has joined cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase as an adviser, as the company targets global expansion amid a legal battle in the US.

Mr Osborne, who was chancellor of the Exchequer between 2010 and 2016, will be joining the company’s global advisory council.

He said there is a “huge amount of exciting innovation in finance right now”, and Coinbase is “at the frontier” of new developments.

Coinbase was launched in 2012 as an online platform for people to buy and sell cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.

It holds billions of dollars worth of assets in more than 100 countries including Britain and recently secured licences in France, Spain and Singapore as it aims to reach more investors around the world.

The firm is currently fighting a court battle in New York after the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued it in June last year.

The SEC alleges Coinbase unlawfully lets people trade unregistered securities, which it described as failures that “deprive investors of critical protections”.

Coinbase has hired former chancellor George Osborne to join its advisory board (Alamy/PA)
Coinbase has hired former chancellor George Osborne to join its advisory board (Alamy/PA)

The lawsuit comes amid greater scrutiny over the crypto sector following the conviction of Sam Bankman-Fried in November, who was found to have defrauded thousands of cryptocurrency customers of billions of dollars through his crypto exchange FTX.

But the UK Government has set out plans to become a “global hub” for crypto technology and investment, aimed at boosting the country’s financial services sector.

Coinbase said having Mr Osborne on its board will help the platform to grow.

Chief policy officer Faryar Shirzad said: “George brings with him a wealth of experience in business, journalism and government.

“We look forward to relying on his insights and experiences as we grow Coinbase around the world.”

The council already counts high-profile leaders as members including former US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper, and former congresswoman Stephanie Murphy.

Mr Osborne is currently a partner at boutique investment bank Robey Warshaw, and was previously the editor-in-chief of London’s Evening Standard newspaper.

He also holds a number of other business roles, including the chairman of trustees for the British Museum. The London-based museum saw its reputation dented last year after it emerged that artefacts worth millions of pounds had gone missing, been stolen or were damaged.

He is a visiting professor at Stanford University and also hosts a podcast called Political Currency with former shadow chancellor Ed Balls.