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Through Revolving Door Brooks Into OCC With List of Conflicts As Otting Out to Black Knight

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - CJR - PFT

UN GATE / SDNY COURT, June 11 – Only a week ago, May 29 was the last day for Joseph Otting as US Comptroller of the Currency, a position he has misused to attack the Community Reinvestment Act he came to despise as head of OneWest Bank.

  Now a week later Ottting has cashed out, taking a paying position on the board of directors of Black Knight, described as a fintech.
  But if bank regulators have a cooling off period, how can the just former Comptroller joint a fintech, an industry he and his successor worked and work to get into the national banking world?

  As to now Acting Comptroller Brian Brooks, Bloomberg reports that "[a]s Coinbase’s chief legal officer, Brooks was paid $1.4 million in salary -- separate from the stock options -- in the year and a half he spent with company, which had weighed seeking a charter through the OCC before making other moves to access the banking system. He also received $1.5 million in the past two years from Fannie Mae, where he was a board member after having been the company’s top lawyer.  Brooks traded those lucrative posts to earn less than $300,000 a year running the OCC. But he still has stock and bond holdings between $1 million and $2.2 million. Also, OCC chiefs are among high-ranking government officials who often move on to high-paying positions after their time in the government.  Because he’s acting comptroller -- not yet nominated by President Donald Trump to seek Senate confirmation -- he’s not required to take the ethics pledge that would limit his ability to work in lobbying after he leaves the job, according to an OCC spokesman. However, Brooks has submitted a letter through the agency’s ethics office outlining companies he’ll steer clear of because of potential conflicts of interest, including Inc., Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit, Coinbase and a number of other tech firms he’s worked with....  Otting, who left the job last month, wasn’t out of work long. He was tapped this week to join the board of Black Knight Inc., which provides software for the mortgage industry." Bloomberg did not delve into that conflict of interest. And what are the "other tech firms" as to which Brooks is ackowledging a conflict? Watch this site.

   It has not only been a policy dispute. Under Otting, the OCC immediately started denying Freedom of Information Act fee waivers, even for copies of pending merger applications subject to public comment. He debased certain longtime OCC staff, or perhaps they had alwasy been ready to take this turn. Time will tell.

Otting started refusing to consider timely comments on mergers, such as the take-over of Chinatown FSB by a national bank. Such contempt for the public and the public process is Otting's legacy.

  What will change under Otting's successor Brian P. Brooks? Brooks was vice chair of OneWest, before going to FannieMae then CoinBase, which he left only in March. Inner City Press has heard a number of things about Brooks, but as always goes into it with an open mind. Watch this site - and this project:

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, fair lending and Community Reinvestment Act are taking a back seat, or worse.

While Otting pushed forward with his proposal to weaken the CRA, his new chief national bank examiner Blake Paulson, installed just before Otting left, said bank examinations have gone 95% off-site.

   Fintechs and other non-bank financial firms are now at the PPP trough and are getting sued. For example, there is the lawsuit filed as a class action against Fountainhead Commercial Capital LLC on May 6, noting the finance firm advertised that it would process loan requests on a first-come, first-served basis and then stealthly shuffled its line of PPP applicants so that it would lock down the largest lending fees first.

     Meanwhile the OCC, which wants to admit fintechs into banking without regulation, says no one is in PPP for the money. This while in response to Inner City Press' FOIA request for Otting's schedule the OCC redacted the names of banks that he met without, and obscured others. (A FOIA appeal has been filed.)

   Amid all this, Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press / Community on the Move are launching a new project. And so far, Otting's national banks have been among the worst. Watch this site.


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