A Former Coinbase Lawyer Is About to Become Acting Head of US Bank Regulator

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Brian Brooks, the former chief legal officer at Coinbase, is about to be the head of a U.S. bank regulator, at least temporarily. (Credit: CoinDesk archives)

A former top lawyer at Coinbase is about to take the top job at a major U.S. bank regulator, at least temporarily.

Brian Brooks, the first deputy comptroller and chief operating officer in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), is poised to become acting comptroller as his boss, Joseph Otting, is planning an imminent departure.

Otting will be stepping down after reforming rules designed to prevent financial institutions from discriminating against low-income and minority individuals, Politico Pro reported Tuesday, and he intends to announce his departure after the new rules are finalized this week. The Wall Street Journal also reported Otting’s plans.

Brooks, as the First Deputy, will take on the role of Acting Comptroller of the Currency until U.S. President Donald Trump nominates a permanent candidate and the U.S. Senate confirms them. The OCC is the only entity that charters national banks in the U.S.

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Neither outlet had a firm timeline for Otting’s departure.

It’s unclear how long this process could take. Otting was nominated in June 2017 and confirmed in November 2017, indicating the process could take months.

Brooks took the role of First Deputy barely two months ago, but has already announced his support of a charter which would allow crypto – and other fintech firms – to be licensed through a national regime, rather than have these companies secure money services business licenses on a state-by-state basis.

Prior to joining the OCC, Brooks was chief legal officer at crypto exchange Coinbase. In recent years, he’s also held leadership and advisory roles at Fannie Mae, and notably was the vice chairman of OneWest Bank between 2011 and 2014. OneWest was founded and owned by Steven Mnuchin, now the U.S. Treasury Secretary who appointed Brooks to his OCC role.

Otting was also at OneWest, as president and CEO between 2010 and 2015.

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A spokesperson for the OCC could not immediately be reached for comment.

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