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Comptroller of the Currency Stepping Down

Comptroller of the Currency Joseph M. Otting has announced he will step down from office on May 29, 2020, and pursuant to 12 USC 4 as designated by Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin, First Deputy and Chief Operating Officer Brian P. Brooks will become Acting Comptroller of the Currency.

"It has been my distinct honor to serve the United States and this Administration as the 31st Comptroller of the Currency," Comptroller Otting said. "I am extremely proud of what the women and men of the agency have accomplished to promote economic opportunity, eliminate unnecessary regulatory burden, and operate the agency in a more effective and efficient manner."

Before leaving office, Otting and the OCC released a final rule strengthening and modernizing the agency’s regulations under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).

The final rule will increase bank CRA-related lending, investment, and services in low- and moderate-income communities where there is significant need for credit, more responsible lending, and greater access to banking services. The final rule reflects careful consideration of the more than 7,500 comments stakeholders submitted in response to the notice of proposed rulemaking announced on December 12, 2019.

In a letter from April 8, the National Housing Conference responded to proposed changes to CRA rulemaking, stating that “we have no idea how severely the pandemic will impact our economy, the financial system and communities throughout the nation. Committing resources to regulatory initiatives that do not directly support our national response to the COVID-19 pandemic is a dangerous distraction.”

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, was critical of the final rule.

"The CRA is a critical law that was designed to combat discriminatory practices, such as redlining, by requiring banks to lend responsibly and make investments in the communities where they are located," said Waters. "This ill-advised rule badly weakens the implementation of the law and ultimately turns the Community Reinvestment Act into the Community Disinvestment Act."

Blake Paulson, the new Chief National Bank examiner with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and senior deputy comptroller for midsize and community bank supervision, recently spoke with Law360 on the OCC’s plan beyond the coronavirus, detailing the steps the agency and banks can take to prepare for the next financial downturn.

According to Paulson, one of the most significant priorities of the OCC has been strengthening the CRA regulation.

“We've done a tremendous amount of work to first put out an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking to request, which was a series of questions on the CRA and then a proposed rule. Now we've gotten all those comments back, and we're working on drafting the final rule. We expect that, working in conjunction with the FDIC [Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation], we will release a final rule this year."

About Author: Seth Welborn

Seth Welborn is a Harding University graduate with a degree in English and a minor in writing. He is a contributing writer for MReport. An East Texas Native, he has studied abroad in Athens, Greece and works part-time as a photographer.
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