Acting Comptroller Brooks leaving post Thursday; agency COO to take over, again in acting capacity

Brian Brooks, the acting comptroller of the currency, on Wednesday said he will leave the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) Thursday.

The agency said Blake Paulson, currently senior deputy comptroller and chief operating officer, set to replace him in accordance with federal law (12 USC 4).

Brooks was named acting comptroller of the OCC last May and is the third person to sit in the comptroller’s chair during the Trump administration.Thursda

Brooks joined the agency in April and was named acting comptroller when Joseph Otting resigned after having just approved a final, revised Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) regulation that lacked sign-off by either of the other two federal banking agencies (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Federal Reserve).

President Donald Trump in November nominated Brooks to a full, five-year term as comptroller, but the nomination expired with no action in the Senate, and Trump renominated him Jan. 3.

There was no real expectation that the nomination would receive much attention now that Democrats will soon take the majority in the Senate. In November, when Trump first signaled his intention to nominate Brooks, Senate Banking Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) slammed the effort and urged rejection. Brown is poised to soon become committee chair. Beyond that, President-elect Joe Biden is widely expected to name his own pick to head the comptroller’s office.

Among Brooks’ most recent actions as acting comptroller were issuance of guidance and interpretive letters supporting banks’ and federal savings associations’ (FSAs) authority to provide cryptocurrency services; a proposal on “fair access” to services that would prevent or make it harder for banks to deny services to categories or classes of customers (including oil and other energy companies); a final rule treating a national bank as the “true lender” of a loan if that bank is named in the original agreement or funds the loan; a proposed process for exemptions from suspicious activity reporting under the Bank Secrecy Act.

Brooks has also been a staunch advocate of fintech charters, recently giving preliminary approval to online lender Social Finance Inc.’s application to establish a full-service bank – SoFi Bank, National Association.

Before joining the OCC, Brooks served as chief legal officer of Coinbase Global, Inc., a digital asset exchange and custodian. He has also served as executive vice president and general counsel of Fannie Mae; vice chairman of OneWest Bank, N.A.; and managing partner of the Washington, D.C., office of the global law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP. Brooks also served on the boards of directors of Fannie Mae and Avant, Inc., and was an advisor to several financial technology startups.

Brian P. Brooks to Step Down, Blake Paulson to Become Acting Comptroller of the Currency on January 14, 2021