Acting head of U.S. bank regulator to step down Thursday By Reuters

© Reuters.

By Pete Schroeder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Brian Brooks, the acting head of the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency, will leave the agency on Jan. 14, the regulator said in a statement on Wednesday.

Brooks has led the agency in an acting role since May. He will be replaced by Blake Paulson, the agency’s chief operating officer, who has been at the regulator since 1986.

Brooks’ exit was expected, as President-elect Joe Biden is expected to quickly move to name a replacement at the agency, which is responsible for monitoring national banks.

Despite leading the agency for just eight months, Brooks pushed forward a number of significant and contentious rules, including a proposal that would prohibit banks from refusing to do business with certain business sectors.

The banking industry has called the proposed “fair access” rule unworkable and political, as Republicans have long griped about banks opting to steer clear of some controversial industries like oil and gas and gun manufacturers.

Brooks also pushed the regulator and banks to be more accepting of new financial technologies like cryptocurrency, and encouraged fintech firms to seek out national bank licenses. He worked as the chief legal officer for Coinbase, a crypto exchange, before joining the OCC.

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