Regulation

Gruenberg Declines To Answer On His Future In FDIC

As his successor is expected to be confirmed soon, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Martin Gruenberg faced questions about having a future leadership role at the agency.

According to a recent report by Politico, Gruenberg, who has served on the FDIC board in various capacities since 2005, is Democrats’ choice to serve as vice chairman of the agency — one of two seats on the five-member board selected by the opposition party.

Gruenberg, however, declined to comment on the report.

“I know there was a press report in regard to that, but candidly I’m not in a position to comment on press reports,” Gruenberg said at a briefing for the release of the FDIC’s quarterly banking profile, according to American Banker.

The FDIC’s former vice chairman, Thomas Hoenig, stepped down last month. Gruenberg’s term as chairman expired in November, but his term as a member of the agency’s board does not expire until the end of 2018.

In the meantime, President Donald Trump’s pick for new FDIC Chair, Jelena McWilliams, could be confirmed as early as this week. One issue she has already discussed is the “hold-up” regarding the issuance of lending licenses if granted the position.

If the FDIC removes the barriers for special lending licenses, FinTech firms and even stores like Walmart would be able to enter the banking market. McWilliams thinks the licenses do not pose any threat to the banking industry, and that if she were named the next head of the FDIC, she would make sure the government agency “swiftly” reviews those loan license applications.

“If it meets the ILC standards as currently set up by the FDIC, I believe there should be no obstacles in the application program,” she said.

The issue has been a point of contention ever since the FDIC rejected Walmart’s bid back in 2005. In the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the issuance of ILC (industrial loan company) licenses was restricted, but in 2013 that limitation expired. However, the FDIC has yet to issue an ILC license.

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