Saturday, July 24, 2010

John Walsh to be Acting Comptroller

On Friday the Treasury issued a press release announcing that Secretary Geithner has chosen John Walsh,Chief of Staff and Public Affairs at the OCC, to be Acting Comptroller when John Dugan leaves the agency on August 14.  This was a surprise.  I had thought that Julie Williams, the OCC's First Senior Deputy Comptroller and Chief Counsel, would take on that role, as she did when Dugan's predecessor, John D. Hawke, Jr., left the OCC.

John Walsh was brought into the OCC by Dugan and has worked closely with him.  Dugan clearly thinks highly of him.  However, it is not clear why Geithner chose to bypass Williams.

Since it may take some time to get a new Comptroller in place and financial regulatory reform legislation has just been recently enacted, the role of acting Comptroller will entail more than a caretaker role.  Among other tasks, the OCC has to administer taking over much of the Office of Thrift Supervision, and it needs to define its role among other regulators under the changes made by the new law.  Geithner obviously has made the judgement that Walsh, who has an impressive résumé, has the necessary political skills as well  as substantive knowledge to lead the OCC during this transitional period.

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