Interim OCC chief Noreika comes with potential conflicts
Unusual maneuver allows administration to oust Obama holdover
The Trump administration used a highly unusual personnel move to skirt Senate confirmation and standard ethics requirements when it installed a financial services lawyer atop a powerful banking regulator.
Keith Noreika’s transition from representing banks to overseeing them came courtesy of a quick two-step. He was made “first deputy” at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a designation that ensured he would ascend to the top job once it opened. Then the administration ousted Thomas Curry, an OCC head picked by Barack Obama who had imposed tough rules and record fines on lenders. Just like that, Noreika became acting comptroller.
While the OCC says Noreika has mitigated potential conflicts, there’s been no public disclosure of an ethics agreement or his former clients. He represented Wall Street firms and an online brokerage that needs the OCC’s sign-off to complete a merger, according to legal filings and a biography that was posted on the website of his previous employer, law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.