Biden to appoint anti-crypto, anti-big bank law professor to lead OCC

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The Biden administration reportedly intends to appoint Kazakh lawyer, scholar and former political adviser Saule Omarova as head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) – the institution that oversees the US banking sector.

Omarova has criticized both crypto assets and legacy banking in the past, having once pledged to “end banking as we know it.” She characterized cryptocurrency as “primarily benefiting the dysfunctional financial system that we already have.”

According to a September 22 Bloomberg report citing three anonymous sources “familiar with the nomination process,” Omarova could be nominated as early as this week.

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Currently working as a law professor at Cornell University Law School, Omarova is expected to seek stricter regulations for crypto, as she has described the sector as a threat to the stability of the economy and prone to abuse. from large private financial entities. The university specializes in banking law and corporate finance.

If confirmed, Omarova’s tenure at OCC would likely include a significant change from the previous administration, with former Coinbase legal adviser and crypto promoter Brian Brooks leading the agency towards the end. of Trump’s presidency.

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Omarova also proposed sweeping prescriptions for the financial sector, arguing for consumer banking services to be administered exclusively by the Federal Reserve rather than by private institutions. She previously served as Special Advisor on Regulatory Policy to the US Treasury Department during the presidency of George W. Bush.

However, analysts don’t believe Omarova will get the OCC job without a fight, with Democrats currently holding a slim majority in the Senate and the banking industry is expected to lobby against her nomination.

If appointed, Omarova would become the first woman to officially head the agency, although the OCC has been led by a female interim manager in the past.

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Related: CFTC commissioner: agency has no enforcement resources without Congress

The New York Times reported that the Biden administration began validating Omarova for the job in early August.

While Democrats previously considered former Treasury official Michael Barr and law professor Mehra Baradaran for the post, they were dropped after Democrats ruled that none of the candidates were likely to garner enough support to get confirmation.