Biden To Name Crypto Critic Saule Omarova To Lead OCC

U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to announce his nomination for the Comptroller of The Currency within the next few days. He will pick a female candidate, according to Bloomberg media outlets, citing three people familiar with the nomination process. (19).jpg

The U.S. President is planning to nominate Saule Omarova, Cornell University law school professor, to head the Office of The Comptroller of The Currency (OCC). The nomination event is reported could happen as soon as this week.  

Omarova, a Kazakh-American lawyer, has been teaching at Cornell University law school since 2014, specializing in banking law and corporate finance. In 2006-2007, she served as special adviser for regulatory policy to the U.S. Department of The Treasury under former President George W. Bush.

As a native of Kazakhstan, Omarova would be the first woman and person of colour officially named to run the Office of the OCC that oversees the U.S. banking sector.

Omarova is an outspoken critic of cryptocurrency and traditional banking and has called for the government to play a more active and bigger role in the nation’s financial services sector. As in charge of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, she would be expected to supervise the country’s biggest banks and implement regulations concerning cryptocurrency firms and Fintech startups.

In the past, Omarova has criticized the cryptocurrency and traditional banking sector, and she is known for wanting to “end banking as we know it”

Omarova described the cryptocurrency sector as threatening the stability of the economy and believes that crypto-assets only benefit the “dysfunctional financial system we already have.” She further acknowledges that the financial sector is prone to abuse from large private financial institutions.

Omarova is therefore expected to pursue stricter rules and stricter oversight for cryptocurrency and the financial industry.

Next move for the OCC?

After Brian Brooks’ departure, the Office of The Comptroller of The Currency (OCC) signals a less crypto-friendly institution.

Brooks stepped down as the head of the OCC in January 2021as the Biden administration prepared to take the reins.

As a result, the appointment of Michael Hsu as the current acting comptroller of currency came with changes, a shift away from the aggressive innovation pushed by fintech-friendly Brian Brooks.

Mr. Brooks strongly promoted the OCC’s proposed special-purpose fintech charter. He allowed banks and thrifts to offer custody services to cryptocurrency companies, among other moves to modernize and innovate the OCC in response to rapid changes in financial services.

But all that changed with the appointment of Hus, who signalled a potential reversal of the innovations Brooks sought to achieve.

In May, Hsu called for a review of the cryptocurrency guidance issued by the OCC under Brian Brooks.   

Hsu ordered a review of several of the agency’s recent actions, including moves that gave it authority to provide crypto custody companies with banking licenses. OCC hinted that it could become less friendly to cryptocurrency.

With the current new appointments underway, more significant changes are likely to come to the OCC, creating new challenges for fintech, crypto regulations, and DeFi (decentralized finance).

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