Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is an independent bureau within the United States Department of the Treasury that was established by the National Currency Act of 1863 and serves to charter, regulate, and supervise all national banks and thrift institutions and the federally licensed branches and agencies of foreign banks in the United States.[2] The acting Comptroller of the Currency is Michael J. Hsu, who took office on May 10, 2021.[3]

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Seal of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Logo of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

Flag of the Comptroller of the Currency
Agency overview
FormedFebruary 25, 1863; 161 years ago (1863-02-25)
HeadquartersConstitution Center, Washington, D.C.
Employees3,518 (as of December 31, 2020)
Agency executive
Parent agencyDepartment of the Treasury

Duties and functions edit

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., it has four district offices located in New York City, Chicago, Dallas and Denver. It has an additional 92 operating locations throughout the United States. It is an independent bureau of the United States Department of the Treasury and is headed by the Comptroller of the Currency, appointed to a five-year term by the President with the consent of the U.S. Senate.

The OCC pursues a number of main objectives:

  • to ensure the safety and soundness of the national banking system;
  • to foster competition by allowing banks to offer new products and services;
  • to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of OCC supervision especially to reduce the regulatory burden;
  • to ensure fair and equal access to financial services to all Americans;
  • to enforce anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing laws that apply to national banks and federally licensed branches and agencies of international banks; and
  • to investigate misconduct committed by institution-affiliated parties of national banks, including officers, directors, employees, agents and independent contractors (including appraisers, attorneys and accountants).

The OCC participates in interagency activities in order to maintain the integrity of the federal banking system. By monitoring capital, asset quality, management, earnings, liquidity, sensitivity to market risk, information technology, consumer compliance, and community reinvestment, the OCC is able to determine whether or not the bank is operating safely and soundly, providing fair access and treatment to customers, and complying with all applicable laws and regulations. The OCC was created by Abraham Lincoln to fund the American Civil War but was later transformed into a regulatory agency to instill confidence in the federal banking system, ensure it operates in a safe and sound manner, and treats customers fairly.

The OCC regulates and supervises about 1,200 national banks, federally-licensed savings associations, and federally-licensed branches of foreign banks in the United States,[4] accounting for more than two-thirds of the total assets of all U.S. commercial banks (as of September 30, 2020).

Other financial regulatory agencies like the OCC include the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (of which the Comptroller serves as a director), the Federal Reserve, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the National Credit Union Administration. The OCC routinely interacts and cooperates with other government agencies, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the Office of Foreign Asset Control, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security.

The Comptroller serves as a director of the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and member of the Financial Stability Oversight Council and the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council.

Preemption of state banking regulation edit

In 2003, the OCC proposed regulations to preempt virtually all state banking and financial services laws for national banks and their diverse range of non-bank, corporate operating subsidiaries.[5] Despite opposition from the National Conference of State Legislatures,[6] the OCC's regulations went into effect. In Watters v. Wachovia Bank, N.A. 550 U.S. 1 (2007), the United States Supreme Court validated the preemption of state regulations by the OCC, ruling that the OCC, not the states, has the authority to subject national banks to "general supervision" and "oversight":

State regulators cannot interfere with the business of banking by subjecting national banks or their OCC-licensed operating subsidiaries to multiple audits and surveillance under rival oversight regimes.[7]

In Cuomo v. Clearing House Association, L. L. C. 557 U.S. 519 (2009), the Court clarified its decision in Watters, stating that federal banking regulations did not preempt the ability of states to enforce their own fair-lending laws, as "'general supervision and control' and 'oversight' are worlds apart from law enforcement", and therefore states retain law enforcement powers but have restricted "visitorial" powers over national banks (i.e., the right to examine the affairs of a corporation).[8] edit

In July 2007, the OCC launched to assist customers of national banks and provide answers to national banking questions.[9]

Financial inclusion edit

On July 10, 2020, the OCC announced the launch of Project REACh. REACh stands for Roundtable for Economic Access and Change, and the project brings together leaders from the banking industry, national civil rights organizations, business, and technology to reduce specific barriers that prevent full, equal, and fair participation in the nation's economy.[10]

History edit

During the American Civil War, leaders of the U.S. federal government, including President Abraham Lincoln and Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, drafted plans for a national banking system. These plans were put into action by the National Currency Act of 1863, subsequently amended by the National Bank Act, which created the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to administer the new system.[11]

Under the law, banks could apply to the OCC for a charter issued by the federal government. Approved banks would purchase U.S. government bonds, generating cash flow for the government. The bonds would then be deposited with the U.S. Treasury to provide security to back the paper money to be issued by the banks, a new uniform United States currency that could be redeemed for gold or silver at banks around the country. By ensuring the new currency was backed by the government-held bonds, the system gave users greater confidence in the stability of the paper money.[11]

In 1913, the Federal Reserve Act established a central bank, the Federal Reserve, to issue American currency. The OCC's role shifted to bank examination and regulation, though it retained "currency" as part of its name.[12][2]

The OCC was involved in the response during and after the financial crisis of 2007–08, including work with the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), designing stress tests for major banks, and collecting and analyzing data on home mortgage loans. The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 abolished the Office of Thrift Supervision and merged its former oversight functions into the OCC. The law also reassigned much of the OCC's former compliance mandate to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It further established the Financial Stability Oversight Council, on which the Comptroller of the Currency sits.[13]

Pronunciation edit

As with other uses of the English word "comptroller" there is some ambiguity about the agency's pronunciation. Historically, the word was pronounced identically to "controller," though it is increasingly pronounced as it is spelled (that is, comp-troller).[14] According to Marketplace, former acting Comptroller Keith Noreika and his successor, Joseph Otting, both used the latter pronunciation.[15]

List of comptrollers of the currency edit

Portrait Administrator Took office Left office[16]
  Hugh McCulloch February 25, 1863 March 9, 1865
  Freeman Clarke March 9, 1865 July 24, 1866
  Hiland R. Hulburd February 1, 1867 April 3, 1872
  John Jay Knox Jr. April 25, 1872 April 30, 1884
  Henry W. Cannon May 12, 1884 March 1, 1886
  William L. Trenholm April 20, 1886 April 30, 1889
  Edward S. Lacey May 1, 1889 June 30, 1892
  A. Barton Hepburn August 2, 1892 April 25, 1893
  James H. Eckels April 26, 1893 December 31, 1897
  Charles G. Dawes January 1, 1898 September 30, 1901
  William Barret Ridgely October 1, 1901 March 28, 1908
  Lawrence O. Murray April 27, 1908 April 27, 1913
  John Skelton Williams February 2, 1914 March 2, 1921
  Daniel Richard Crissinger March 17, 1921 March 30, 1923
  Henry M. Dawes May 1, 1923 December 17, 1924
  Joseph W. McIntosh December 20, 1924 November 20, 1928
  John W. Pole November 21, 1928 September 20, 1932
  James Francis Thaddeus O'Connor May 11, 1933 April 16, 1938
  Preston Delano October 24, 1938 February 15, 1953
  Ray M. Gidney April 16, 1953 November 15, 1961
  James J. Saxon November 16, 1961 November 15, 1966
  William B. Camp November 16, 1966 March 23, 1973
  James E. Smith July 5, 1973 July 31, 1976
  John G. Heimann July 21, 1977 May 15, 1981
  Charles Lord 1981 1981
  C. T. Conover December 16, 1981 May 4, 1985
  Robert L. Clarke December 2, 1985 February 29, 1992
  Stephen Steinbrink (acting) March 1, 1992 1993
  Eugene Ludwig April 5, 1993 April 3, 1998
  Julie L. Williams (acting) April 4, 1998 December 8, 1998
  John D. Hawke Jr. December 8, 1998 October 13, 2004
  Julie L. Williams (acting) October 14, 2004 August 4, 2005
  John C. Dugan August 4, 2005 August 14, 2010
  John G. Walsh (acting) August 15, 2010 April 9, 2012
  Thomas J. Curry April 9, 2012 May 5, 2017
  Keith Noreika (acting) May 5, 2017 November 27, 2017
  Joseph Otting November 27, 2017 May 29, 2020
  Brian P. Brooks (acting) May 29, 2020 January 14, 2021
  Blake Paulson (acting) January 14, 2021 May 10, 2021
  Michael J. Hsu (acting) May 10, 2021 present

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Michael J. Hsu | OCC".
  2. ^ a b Van Loo, Rory (August 1, 2018). "Regulatory Monitors: Policing Firms in the Compliance Era". Faculty Scholarship: 14–15.
  3. ^ "Michael J. Hsu Statement to Agency Employees on Becoming Acting Comptroller of the Currency". August 1, 2018.
  4. ^ "Office of the Comptroller of the Currency About Us". January 24, 2019. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  5. ^ "Proposed Rules : Federal Register Vol 68 No. 150" (PDF). Retrieved November 11, 2013.
  6. ^ [1] Archived October 15, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Watters v. Wachovia Bank, N.A., 550 U.S. 1 (Supreme Court of the United States 2007).
  8. ^ Cuomo v. Clearing House Association, L. L. C., 557 U.S. (Supreme Court of the United States 2009).
  9. ^ "Help and Frequently Asked Questions about National Banks from OCC's". Retrieved November 11, 2013.
  10. ^ OCC (July 10, 2020). "Announces Project REACh to Promote Greater Access to Capital and Credit for Underserved Populations." Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  11. ^ a b "Founding of the OCC & the National Banking System". January 14, 2019. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  12. ^ "1914 - 1935". February 26, 2019. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  13. ^ Cannadine, David (2008), "Parliament: Past History, Present History, Future History", Making History Now and Then, Palgrave Macmillan UK, pp. 59–82, doi:10.1057/9780230594265_4, ISBN 978-1-349-30470-7
  14. ^ Dolnick, Sam (September 28, 2010). "A Job Title That Adds Confusion". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  15. ^ "You say comptroller, I say controller". Marketplace. May 14, 2018. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  16. ^ "Previous Comptrollers of the Currency". January 24, 2019.

External links edit