Former Coinbase Lawyer Becomes Head of Major US Bank Regulator Next Week
Only seven weeks after leaving Coinbase’s legal team, Brian P. Brooks will be taking over at the U.S. Treasury Department’s banking-focused bureau.
According to a Thursday announcement from the United States Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the former chief legal counsel of Coinbase, Brian P. Brooks, will step in as the head of the OCC on May 29.
The once and future comptroller
Brooks will be replacing Joseph Otting. Otting is leaving midway through his term, which began at the end of 2017.
Brooks left Coinbase to step into the second-highest position within the OCC in the middle of March. The two have worked together before at OneWest Bank in California.
Significance of the OCC
The OCC is a bureau within the U.S. Treasury Department that regulates banking and lending institutions. The office’s declared mission is:
“To ensure that national banks and federal savings associations operate in a safe and sound manner, provide fair access to financial services, treat customers fairly, and comply with applicable laws and regulations.”
The office plays a major role in, for example, federal programs to distribute loans and aid.
Brooks’s crypto experience
Brooks’s resume is long, but the fact that he has gone directly from an executive role at a leading U.S. crypto exchange to the head of the country’s bank regulation office suggests a heightened interest in new technologies within banking.
The Treasury Department’s announcement of the same hire highlighted Brooks’ work on speedy delivery of the Paycheck Protection Program. He came on at the OCC as lockdowns to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. were just taking hold. Alongside heightened attention U.S. lawmakers are paying to digitizing the dollar for aid distribution amid the pandemic, Brooks’s advancement at the OCC reads as a step in the direction of crypto-facilitated aid.
Having Paved The Way For Future Joseph Ottings, Joseph Otting Steps Down
Now that he’s done with the Community Reinvestment Act, the country really doesn’t need a Comptroller of the Currency anymore.
Originally Published: May 22, 2020
When Steve Mnuchin and Donald Trump decided to make Joseph Otting Comptroller of the Currency with a little help from Senate Republicans, he had two jobs: make the Elizabeth Warrens of the world insane, and make it easier for people like himself and Steve Mnuchin to run banks as they see fit.
And, pandemic notwithstanding, he’s managed to achieve that in spades while also sowing a future of discord, confusion and chaos into policies ostensibly designed to help people who generally do not vote Republican.
Mr. Otting, a former bank CEO, told Senate lawmakers last week that he sought to accelerate completion of the change amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The pending rule change has generated objections from Democratic lawmakers and community groups, who say Mr. Otting’s approach could allow banks to meet their obligations with investments in a few large projects, inadvertently restricting community lending.
The change would also likely fuel a split among the three regulators that oversee the act. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which proposed the overhaul in December along with the comptroller, isn’t expected to join Mr. Otting in announcing the final changes on Wednesday.
A third regulator, the Federal Reserve, has declined to support Mr. Otting’s plan, citing a lack of clarity over how it would affect lending in poorer neighborhoods.
The regulatory split could lead to an unusual situation in which U.S. banks must follow different sets of rules to comply with the law. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency oversees banks that account for about 70% of activities under the low-income lending rules. The FDIC and the Fed oversee banks that account for the remainder.