White House says it will nominate Brooks to be comptroller

WASHINGTON — Brian Brooks will be formally nominated to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the White House announced Tuesday night.

Brooks, a former cryptocurrency lawyer who has led the agency in an acting capacity since May following the sudden resignation of former Comptroller Joseph Otting, would be the 32nd person in history to be confirmed to a five-year term leading the OCC.

Yet it is still unclear if the Senate can vote quickly enough to confirm Brooks before President-elect Joe Biden takes office and the new congressional term takes effect in January. Even if Brooks is confirmed, it is unclear if he could stay on during the Biden administration. U.S. law states that that a comptroller serves a five-year term “unless sooner removed by the President.”

In a press release, Brooks said he would “work ceaselessly to ensure the agency continues to fulfill its critical mission and the men and women of this agency have the resources, training, [and] leadership they need to succeed in their duties.”

Before arriving at the OCC, Brooks served as chief legal office of Coinbase, a cryptocurrency custodian and exchange platform. Prior to that, he worked as an executive vice president and general counsel at Fannie Mae. Brooks also worked with Otting and Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin at OneWest Bank in California.

At the OCC, Brooks has been described by some as the country’s first “fintech comptroller.” In addition to pitching a national bank charter tailored to fintech payments companies, Brooks has also sought to promote the use of cryptocurrency and decentralized ledger technology among the nation’s banks. He has also spearheaded an initiative to bring together community and business leaders to expand access to credit titled “Project REACh.”

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