Bank Regulation

Joseph Otting Confirmed As Next OCC Head

Joseph Otting, the former banking executive with close ties to Steve Mnuchin, the U.S. treasury secretary, was confirmed as the next U.S. Comptroller of the Currency, an office which has oversight of large financial institutions, such as Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

According to news from Reuters, the Senate approved his appointment in a 54 to 43 vote. He will be sworn in as head in the coming days.

Otting has spent 30 years in the banking industry, working at U.S. Bank, Union Bank and most recently as the chief executive officer of OneWest — the lender that Mnuchin created on the heels of the real estate crash back in 2008.

Otting is replacing Keith Noreika, who has been in the role since May and was put in place by Mnuchin. Noreika is a big supporter of deregulation, recently calling for the relaxing of restrictions put in place last year when Wells Fargo’s fake account scandal emerged.

Noreika’s push comes as the Trump Administration is working to loosen some of the Obama-era banking regulations placed on Wall Street. If the idea by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is approved, it means the government watchdog can treat Wells Fargo and other big banks with more leniency if they are hit with sanctions down the road. Keith Noreika has been advocating easing the sanctions slapped on Wells Fargo ever since he took control of the OCC in May, Reuters stated.

Under its agreement with banking regulators made in the wake of the fake accounts scandal, Wells Fargo executives must have severance payouts vetted and cleared by the OCC and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) before they can disburse them. Noreika wants officials to speed up the time to approve the severance pay and for the OCC to have the ability to waive the check on incoming executives to the bank.

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