Law professor, with history of studying financial regulation, tapped to lead OCC

Saule T. Omarova, a Cornell University law professor, is President Joe Biden’s (D) pick as nominee to a five-year term as Comptroller of the Currency, the White House announced Thursday.

A former special advisor for regulatory policy in the Treasury Department’s office of domestic finance (from 2006-07), Omarova has spent most of her career as an academic and lawyer studying and practicing financial regulatory law, according to a biography published by the White House.

In a release, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) praised the selection, calling it historic in that – if confirmed – Omarova would be the first woman, and the first person of color, to lead the agency in its 158-year history.

“Saule Omarova has spent her career working with both Republicans and Democrats on systemic financial stability issues and is well-versed in new financial technologies,” Brown said. “Her experience as a policymaker, in the private sector, and in academia will allow her to work with stakeholders across our financial system to ensure the economy works for everyone, and to protect our economic recovery from the risky activities of Wall Street and other bad actors.”

The White House bio for Omarova states that her scholarly work has focused on regulation of financial institutions and markets, banking law, and political economy of finance.

At Cornell, she is the Beth and Marc Goldberg Professor of Law at Cornell University. She is also director of the program on the law and regulation of financial institutions and markets of the university’s Jack Clarke Institute for the Study and Practice of Business Law, the White House release stated.

Previously, she was the George R. Ward associate professor of law at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and taught courses at Georgetown University Law Center, the White House stated.

The White House said she also practiced law in the financial institutions group of the law firm Davis, Polk, & Wardwell, of New York, where she specialized in “a wide variety of corporate transactions and advisory work in the area of financial regulation,” according to the release.

She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a J.D. from Northwestern University in Chicago. She is a member of the New York Bar.

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