On Thursday, October 12, the Alumni Association of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) held a reception and dinner in Washington, D.C. honoring the service and achievements of former Comptroller Thomas J. Curry, who left office on May 5, 2017. Among other initiatives, Mr. Curry approved and oversaw agency efforts to encourage responsible technological innovation by national banks and savings associations, including the creation of an Office of Innovation, which has facilitated a dialogue among banks and fintech companies. Mr. Curry also directed the OCC to explore and consider the merits of granting a special purpose national bank charter to fintech companies. Although this proposal prompted lawsuits against the OCC by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors and the New York State Department of Financial Services, it received a public statement of support from Mr. Curry’s successor, Acting Comptroller Keith A. Noreika.
In attendance were current Acting Comptroller Noreika, former Comptrollers John Hawke and Robert Clarke, former Acting Comptroller John Walsh, and former Acting Comptroller and Chief Counsel Julie Williams. Mr. Curry was introduced for brief remarks by current Chief Counsel Amy Friend.
Both Ms. Friend and Mr. Noreika will soon be joining the ranks of OCC alumni. Ms. Friend recently announced her retirement from the agency, and the Trump administration advanced Joseph Otting for Senate approval to serve as the next Comptroller. In his brief tenure as Acting Comptroller, Mr. Noreika’s most notable position has been to attack the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) final rule regarding arbitration agreements. In support of his position, Mr. Noreika urged the Senate to vacate the rule, touting the OCC’s own review of the CFPB’s data and analysis, which concluded that the arbitration rule would increase costs to consumers.
Brian Soja is a former OCC enforcement attorney who advises global financial institutions in responding to government investigations and inquiries, including investigations involving reference rates and foreign exchange trading, and tax and AML questions raised by the leak of the Panama Papers data. He also advises clients on compliance with various regulations, including the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (Regulation C), Regulation W, and FDIC regulations on brokered deposits and golden parachutes.