Politics

The President May Replace Top Banking Regulator

As the Trump administration moves to rewrite banking regulations, it looks like a big change to the top of the regulatory structure could be coming down the pipe. Emerging repots indicate that the president is looking to replace Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry as chief overseer of federally chartered banks.

The current plan — according to those with knowledge of the situation — will be to replace Curry with an acting head of the agency until a permanent replacement can be found. The change may come as soon as this week — though thus far neither the White House or Comptroller’s office has any comment.

The OCC oversees hundreds of bank supervisors stationed in financial firms nationwide — meaning its regulatory reach is expansive. President Trump has said he intends to radically reform those regulations — though appointees of President Barack Obama still serve in every major bank regulatory post, including at the Federal Reserve and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Mr. Curry’s five-year term expired in April, but he has said he will continue to serve until the administration formally replaces him.

In line for the position is Joseph Otting, a former banker who worked with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at OneWest Bank. Otting would need congressional approval for the post.

The administration is considering naming as acting comptroller Keith Noreika, a banking lawyer at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Trump broadly supports a deregulatory agenda — but without regulators in place to bring that agenda into focus, it is of limited impact.  Meanwhile, key posts — like the vice chairman in charge of bank oversight at the Fed — remain vacant. The seven-member Fed governing board has three vacancies, including the vice chairman’s job.

Some critics of the CFPB have hoped Mr. Trump would fire its director, Richard Cordray, but he hasn’t done so. Such a move would likely spark a big political fight with Democrats.

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