Curry to Leave Top OCC Post on Friday

Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry will leave his position on Friday, the federal banking regulator announced Wednesday.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plans to appoint Keith Noreika, a partner at the law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, where he specializes in bank regulation, to serve as acting comptroller, the Office of the Comptroller of Currency said. Curry, who has held the top OCC post since April 9, 2012, has maintained his position under an extension since his five-year term ended April 9, 2017.

“Serving as Comptroller of the Currency has been the highlight of my career,” Curry said in a statement Wednesday. “The Comptroller is a special job and I am proud to have served with 4,000 men and women who showed such deep dedication to the agency’s mission of ensuring the safety and soundness of the federal banking system and the fair treatment of its customers.”

OCC is the primary regulator of all federal and many state-chartered thrift institutions, which include savings banks and savings and loan associations.

Curry was most recently in the national spotlight in September when the OCC announced an enforcement action, along with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Los Angeles city attorney, against Wells Fargo & Co. over its fake accounts scandal.

Mnuchin said in a statement Wednesday that Noreika “has deep experience in helping banks operate in a safe and sound manner, provide fair access to financial services, and provide credit needed for business expansion and job growth,” adding that “I am confident that he will capably lead the OCC in carrying out its important mission.”

Mnuchin also praised Curry’s tenure.

“Under Comptroller Curry’s stewardship, the OCC has effectively worked to advance its mission to ensure that national banks and federal savings associations operate in a safe and sound manner,” he said.

Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, was skeptical of the interim replacement.

“Comptroller Curry has been a strong, independent watchdog for the nation’s biggest banks, and a dedicated, thoughtful public servant who helped respond to the worst financial crisis in generations,” Brown said in a statement. “It is disturbing that the president is rushing to replace Mr. Curry with an acting appointee who has clear conflicts of interest, and lacks any experience in running such an important agency.”

Morning Consult