U.S. bank regulator chief to depart, with Coinbase's former top lawyer set to serve in acting capacity

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has confirmed that Joseph Otting will step down from his post as Comptroller of the Currency this week. The announcement confirms that First Deputy and COO Brian Brooks will take over as Acting Comptroller.

First reports of the shift came from the Wall Street Journal and Politico earlier this week.

Brooks — a former chief legal officer at Coinbase — will take up the role when Otting departs on May 29 until U.S. President Donald Trump nominates a permanent fixture.

Otting took up the role in 2017 after a member of President Trump's transition team, Keith Noreika, served as acting comptroller. The president nominated Otting only one month after Noreika entered the post, but it took another five months before the Senate confirmed Otting and he formally entered the office.


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Now, Brooks is slated to hold the seat of acting comptroller just weeks after becoming First Deputy. He left his role at Coinbase to join his former colleague U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who appointed him to the new role at the start of April. Brooks was previously the vice-chairman of OneWest Bank, which Mnuchin founded.

During his short time with the OCC, Brooks has already spoken about the merits of crypto and the possibility of federal licensing over the state licensing system.

The OCC operates under the Department of the Treasury as a bureau focused on regulating national banks. Otting's departure comes after an attempt to overhaul rules of the Community Reinvestment Act to increase investments in lower-income communities.

The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 sought to keep banks from withholding loans from lower-income communities, a practice known as "redlining." Otting's work attempts to define further the types of investments in these communities for which banks could be legally credited – a distinction that matters since it can affect expansion for banks that fail to do their part.

Otting sought to complete the work before his departure, advocating for the plan amid the coronavirus pandemic at a May 12 hearing.

About Author

Aislinn Keely is a reporter on The Block's policy team holding down the legal beat. She covers court decisions, bankruptcies, regulatory actions and other key moments in the legal sphere, putting them in context for the wider crypto industry. Before The Block, she lent her voice to the NPR affiliate WFUV and helmed Fordham University's student newspaper. Send tips or thoughts on all things policy and legal to akeely@theblock.co or follow her on Twitter for updates @AislinnKeely.