Leadership

MercantileAbout Us – Leadership

Our Team

MBI’s executives have extensive experience in all aspects of banking and the broader financial markets.  Over the years our executives have successfully navigated volatile economic cycles and market conditions, as well as managed through several banking industry and broader economic crises, making them well-equipped to handle any challenges. Their extensive knowledge and skillset enable them to identify opportunities for growth, manage risk effectively, and make informed decisions that align with our customers’ goals.

James R. “Bo” Collins Jr.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Mr. Collins served as the President of New York Mercantile Exchange (“NYMEX”) from 2001 to 2004, which was the largest commodities exchange in the world. During his tenure as President, NYMEX launched Clearport Clearing, the first commercially successful OTC clearing platform. Dubai Mercantile Exchange was founded by NYMEX under Mr. Collins’ leadership.

During his time at NYMEX, Mr. Collins brought the exchange into a new era of electronic trading and increased the market-cap from $600 million to $2.7 billion within 3 years (amidst the 9/11 attacks, Enron bankruptcy and largest power outage in U.S. history). Additionally, he led the exchange to an initial S & P credit rating of A++ and its recognition by Energy Risk Magazine as the 2004 “Exchange of the Year.” In 2008, in partnership with NASDAQ, Mr. Collins launched a new clearinghouse, the International Derivatives Clearing Group, which was later sold to LCH. Clearnet Group.

Mr. Collins is an active entrepreneur and respected FinTech professional currently involved in successful ventures such as Matrix Global, the first crude oil storage auction platform. He has also launched an incubator initiative to utilize innovative solutions such as digital currencies and blockchain technology to improve infrastructure development, physical logistics, financial trading and exchange clearing.

Eric H. Edwards

President

Mr. Edwards has over 25 years of experience in the banking and financial services industries – from consumer banking, to bank regulatory, capital, and prudential standards, to the non-bank capital markets.
Mr. Edwards’ experience includes more than a decade as senior staff in the U.S. Congress specializing in banking and payments regulatory policies, capital markets oversight, and international monetary policy. While serving as a counsel on the House Committee on Financial Services, Mr. Edwards played a key role in developing the nation’s first comprehensive counter money laundering strategy. He also managed an investigation into the International Monetary Fund and played lead roles in drafting the “Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009,” and in advising members of congress on the “Troubled Asset Relief Program” (TARP) after the 2008 Financial Crisis.

Mr. Edwards spent another decade working on banking and capital markets matters in the private sector, including as a vice president at the Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., a partner in the global law firm of Crowell & Moring LLP, and, most recently, as a Managing Director and Head of Government Affairs at FS Investments, a leading “alternatives” asset manager with $30 billion assets under management.
Mr. Edwards received his J.D. and LL.M. (with honors) from the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law, his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and his B.A. from Purdue University.

John Wyman

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Mr. Wyman has over 20 years of experience in traditional capital markets technology and crypto-asset technologies. He has a proven track record of driving innovation, strategic planning, and execution to advance corporate goals and support business strategies. With a unique blend of managerial, technical, and operational expertise, he is a change catalyst who has successfully transformed visions into reality in start-up and Fortune 500 environments.

In addition to his technical expertise, he strongly focuses on aligning technology with business goals, driving cost efficiencies, and building high-performing technology teams. He has a track record of generating revenue through cross-selling technology, expanding trading capabilities, and launching innovative products and services. He has also been instrumental in driving regulatory compliance, ensuring security protections, and preserving funds while controlling budgets.

Mr. Wyman studied computer science at Iona University and the University of New Haven.

R. Rene Carson

Chief Legal Officer &
Global Head of Compliance

Ms. Carson is an experienced legal and compliance professional, with approximately 30 experience in the financial service, technology and energy sectors. Ms. Carson has also supported numerous start-up companies over the course of the last five years. Prior to joining MGH, Ms. Carson was General Counsel and Global Head of Compliance for INTL FCStone Inc. (NASDAQ: INTL), a Fortune 500 company that provides customers across the globe with execution, clearing, and advisory services in commodities, futures, securities, foreign exchange, and other related sectors, including a global payments business which specializes in transferring funds to the developing world on behalf of financial institutions, multinational corporations, NGOs, government agencies, and international aid and development organizations. Prior to INTL, Ms. Carson spent more than a decade in private practice, including as a partner at Sidley & Austin.

Ms. Carson received her Juris Doctor degree with honors from NYU School of Law, and her B.A. with honors in Political Science from University of Wyoming.

Yarot T. Lafontaine

General Counsel & Co-CCO

Mr. Lafontaine is an experienced corporate, regulatory, and transactional attorney. Prior to joining Mercantile Bank International Corp., Mr. Lafontaine was an Associate General Counsel at Noble Bank International LLC, where he provided counsel to the executive team on banking/financial institution regulation, regulatory affairs, compliance, corporate governance, and transactional matters.

Mr. Lafontaine started his legal career in the Corporate Department of one of the foremost law firms in Puerto Rico, Ferraiuoli LLC, where he advised private investment funds, investment advisers, and financial institutions on federal and local financial regulatory matters. In addition, he counseled start-ups and mature companies in private capital raising efforts, M&A transactions with a particular focus on due diligence efforts, entity structuring and corporate governance.

Mr. Lafontaine received his Juris Doctor and his BBA (Finance), both Magna Cum Laude, from the University of Puerto Rico. Mr. Lafontaine served as Editor-in-Chief of the UPR Business Law Journal (Volume III). In addition, Mr. Lafontaine is an alumni of the Aspen Music Festival & School (ESARI Program) for classical music recording.

Nicholas R. Granato

Co-Cheif Compliance Officer BSA /AML Officer

Mr. Granato is a Certified Anti-Money Laundering (“AML”) Specialist and has over sixteen years of executive-level experience managing compliance and AML functions, including as Chief Compliance Officer for the StoneX Group, a Fortune 100 financial services company specializing in global payments, commodities, foreign exchange, and clearing & execution.

Mr. Granato also served as the Senior Compliance Manager for the Dubai Mercantile Exchange, where he directed the rebuild of the Exchange’s entire AML program.

Mr. Granato also worked with Bank of America as a Vice President for OTC Derivatives Compliance/AML. In that role, he managed the AML/Compliance Market Surveillance function for Global Rates, Commodities and Currencies. He also monitored corporate, financial, and institutional sales and trading activity to detect violations of rules, regulations, and firm policies (BSA, FERC, FINRA, OCC, OFAC, USA Patriot Act).

Mr. Granato is recognized for developing an on-line “Know Your Customer” application process for compliance with the USA Patriot Act, which was referred to as a “gold standard” at the time and still in use today. In addition to being a recognized expert in BSA/AML compliance matters, Mr. Granato has fluent knowledge of regulatory complexities in global markets, risk management audits, and technical systems supporting derivatives transactions.

Mr. Granato’s education includes a BS Degree in Biology/Psychology from Charter Oak State College, New Haven CT.

Kenneth M. Eason

Director of IT & Business Operations

Mr. Eason has over 25 years of experience in leading global software development initiatives across multiple technologies and business environments. His expertise spans enterprise infrastructure and operations, architecture, multi-platform development, quality assurance, security and data management. Mr. Eason strongly focuses on aligning technologies to meet business objectives and to advance corporate goals. He also contributes significantly to advancing technology thinking, strategy and execution.

Mr. Eason has extensive expertise in management and leadership of geographically diverse, offsite, offshore, hybrid and virtual high performing global technology teams that deliver high-impact, state of the art technology solutions within the financial services sector. His attention to detail, dedication to successful implementation of business vision and strategic thinking brings a valuable perspective to the marketplace. In Mr. Eason’s operations role he is focused on ensuring the highest level of bank regulatory compliance and security, transactional integrity, and customer support.

Mr. Eason received his Bachelors of Science from the University of New Hampshire. In addition he studied computer science and information technology.

James Samborski

Director of Security/Law Enforcement Liasson

Mr. Samborski serves as MBI’s Law Enforcement Liaison, managing strong relationships with law enforcement agencies, including the DOJ, FBI, HSI, DEA, NYPD, AUSAs, and Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. He has established and managed internal investigation programs, lead highly sensitive investigations, identified trends from various systems, and developed recommendations based on investigatory conclusions and analyses.

Mr. Samborski is dedicated to ensuring compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and best practices, including Know Your Customer (KYC) and BSA/AML. Mr. Samborski comes from an extensive background with the NYPD, where his role included; Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Detective Squad {Washington Heights, Upper East Side, Forest Hills), Investigator in Detective Bureau, Manhattan North Narcotic Division, Brooklyn North Narcotics Division, Organized Crime Control Bureau, Anti-Crime Unit/Undercover, Community Patrol Officer Program, Patrol, and Neighborhood Stabilization Unit.

Audrey Henry

Chief of Staff

Ms. Henry is an innovative strategist and a dedicated developer of ideas with more than a decade of experience blazing trails and bridging gaps between the creative and financial marketplaces. With her extensive background in all aspects of film and media production, she brings a unique and valuable perspective to the modern financial services industry. Through her work at Mercantile and her outside endeavors, Ms. Henry is dedicated to advancing social impact projects and facilitating economic empowerment around the globe. She is a graduate of Seattle Pacific University with BAs in Theater Arts and Spanish, and credentials from the University of Salamanca, Spain.

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