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

Brian Brooks, a former Coinbase lawyer and the No. 2 at a U.S. banking regulator, may soon take the top job – at least, temporarily.

AccessTimeIconMay 20, 2020 at 12:43 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 1:48 p.m. UTC

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), will become acting comptroller on May 29 after his boss, Joseph Otting, steps down from the role.

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 reportedly announced his resignation effective at the end of the month on Wednesday. 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.

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 that 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.

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

UPDATE (May 20, 20:50 UTC): Otting reportedly announced his retirement Wednesday.


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