POLITICS
04/09/2018 09:53 pm ET Updated Apr 10, 2018

Fed Watchdog Calls Banks His 'Customers,' Gushes: 'I Like Banks'

Bankers find the head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency "refreshing."

The head of the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which is supposed to be a bank watchdog, announced Monday: “I like banks.”

Former banker Joseph Otting told a gathering in Washington, D.C., of the Independent Community of Bankers of America that he intended to “improve our responsiveness to our customers, which are the banks,” Bloomberg reported.

He also assured his audience that the Trump administration is “very bank supportive.”

The head of the bankers’ gathering deemed Otting’s address “refreshing,” according to Bloomberg.

Otting is charged with keeping tabs on about 1,000 banks across the country to make sure they don’t pull the same stunts that triggered a worldwide financial crisis in 2008. The OCC helped changed laws in the wake of the crisis to more closely regulate banks.

Otting was working as a banking executive during the mounting subprime lending debacle years at U.S. Bancorp and OneWest Bank, where he was CEO. OneWest came under heavy criticism for how it handled foreclosures after the subprime crisis. Because of a federal finding of “deficiencies and unsafe or unsound practices,” the bank operated under a federally supervised four-year consent order beginning in 2011 while Otting was CEO.

Rather than policing banks, Otting promised bankers at Monday’s meeting that he’ll be working to ease rules, including relaxing Bank Secrecy Act compliance by making anti-money-laundering regulations more flexible, and “de-centralizing” bank supervision, according to Bloomber.g

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) slammed Otting during his confirmation hearings last year. The Trump administration is “putting the banking industry back in charge of policing itself,” he tweeted. Otting “is yet another bank exec who profited off the financial crisis who is being rewarded by the Trump Administration.” 

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