Banking and Finance Law Daily Acting Comptroller Brian Brooks steps down after eight months
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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Acting Comptroller Brian Brooks steps down after eight months

By Stephanie K. Mann, J.D.

Filling the role will be Chief Operating Officer Blake Paulson until a new Comptroller can be confirmed.

Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian P. Brooks has stepped down after serving in the interim role for eight months. In his place, Chief Operating Office Blake Paulson will serve as the Acting Comptroller beginning January 14.

"It has been a great honor to serve the United States as Acting Comptroller of the Currency," Acting Comptroller Brooks said. "The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is the most extraordinary of federal agencies filled with the most dedicated, professional, and gifted staff any executive can hope to have. I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished together through what have been extraordinary times by any measure."

Brook’s tenure. While serving as the Acting Comptroller, Brooks oversaw the OCC as it "acted swiftly to provide relief and support to national banks and federal savings associations so they could use their strength to help consumers, businesses, and communities through the COVID-19 pandemic." According to the press release, the agency eliminated regulatory uncertainty regarding valid-when-made and true-lender rules; implemented its new Community Reinvestment Act rule to promote greater investment, lending, and services; and clarified bank and thrift authorities regarding certain activities related to crypto assets. "The actions we took as a team will help ensure the federal banking system operates in a safer, sounder, and fairer manner for decades to come," Brooks said.

One of the major initiatives launched under Brooks’ tenure was Project REACh, which brought together bankers, civil rights leaders, and technology experts to identify and reduce barriers that prevent underserved and minority populations from participating fully and fairly in the economy.

Acting Comptroller Paulson. Before leaving, Brooks said that the "nation and the federal banking system are fortunate to have such a stable, capable hand like Blake Paulson to step in and guide the agency with the other Executive Committee members until the next Comptroller is nominated and confirmed." Paulson began working for the OCC in 1986 and has held a variety of bank supervision and leadership roles involving banks of all size.

Reaction. Following the announcement, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chair Jelena McWilliams thanked Brooks for this service during his tenure at the OCC and on the FDIC Board of Directors. She said that he "brought tremendous intellect and energy to his job as a regulator, and I will always be grateful for his collaborative approach to the shared missions of our agencies."

In addition, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, said that Brooks has been a "steadfast advocate for financial technology, regulatory modernization and driven innovation. In his fast tenure, he provided clarity on the ‘true lender’ doctrine, added certainty that loans are ‘Valid-When-Made,’ and worked to ensure lawful companies are not being shut out of the financial system."

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