New Comptroller Would Join Dodd-Frank Demolition Team

The Trump administration has nominated Joseph Otting, former CEO of OneWest Bank, to be comptroller of the currency.

Otting worked closely with Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin when the latter was OneWest’s chairman. The Pasadena, California-based bank ran into trouble with regulators because of its foreclosure practices. If confirmed by the Senate, Otting is expected to play a key role in carrying out President Trump’s plan to deregulate financial services.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which regulates national banks, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, is an independent agency within the Treasury Department. The OCC maintains a staff of hundreds of examiners, who conduct on-site reviews of banks.

The choice of an ex-banker to regulate Wall Street was criticized by Democrats, including Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, a member of the Senate Banking Committee. “If Mr. Otting didn’t deal fairly with the customers at his own bank, it’s difficult to see why he’s the best choice to look out for the interests of customers at more than 1,400 banks and thrifts across the country,” Brown said. He added that Otting, while CEO of OneWest, signed a consent order in 2011 with the Office of Thrift Supervision, which later merged with the OCC. Otting was the bank’s CEO from 2010 to 2015. OneWest’s reverse mortgage subsidiary, Financial Freedom, recently made an $89 million settlement with the Department of Justice over allegations it defrauded the Federal Housing Administration.

Otting, who has 30 years of experience in the banking industry, would replace Thomas Curry as comptroller. Curry stepped down on May 5 after his five-year term expired. Keith Noreika, a banking industry lawyer and former partner at Simpson Thacher, is acting chairman of the OCC.