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Trump administration taps lawyer as acting comptroller

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration on Wednesday named a banking lawyer to be the interim head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, as part of the administration’s efforts to overhaul bank regulation.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Keith Noreika, a partner at the law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, will become acting comptroller on Friday. He succeeds Thomas Curry, then-President Barack Obama’s nominee, who has been comptroller since 2012. Curry’s five-year term ended last month, but he had been serving until a replacement was named.

The administration said that Noreika will serve as first deputy comptroller and as the acting head of the agency until a permanent replacement is chosen.

The comptroller’s office is the chief overseer for federally chartered banks.

The change at the comptroller’s office is expected to be one of many within U.S. banking agencies as the administration attempts to overhaul regulations and fulfill President Donald Trump’s campaign promises. Republicans have long complained that bank regulations were made too restrictive following the 2008 financial crisis and have hampered economic growth by making it harder for banks to grant loans.

Mnuchin praised Noreika for his “deep experience” in helping banks operate in a sound manner. A 1997 graduate of Harvard Law School, Noeika has nearly two decades of experience as a banking lawyer and is considered an expert in regulation and supervision issues for national banks and federal savings associations.

But Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, was critical of the action, praising Curry as a “strong, independent watchdog for the nation’s biggest banks. … It is disturbing that the president is rushing to replace Mr. Curry with an acting appointee who has clear conflicts of interest and lacks any experience in running such an important agency.”

The comptroller oversees hundreds of bank supervisors, many of them stationed inside the nation’s largest financial institutions.

Mnuchin told a banking group Wednesday that the administration is close to announcing its selection for another key banking post, the vice chair for supervision at the Federal Reserve.

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