- President Joe Biden is set to nominate Cornell University law professor Saule Omarova to head the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, according to a Bloomberg report.
- The banking law professor has been a critic of cryptocurrencies and envisions a larger role for the government in overseeing banks.
- Omarova needs Senate confirmation to serve a five-year term.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
President Joe Biden is preparing to nominate a Cornell University law professor who has been critical of cryptocurrencies and envisions a larger role for the government in overseeing banks to run the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, according to a Bloomberg report.
Biden as soon as this week will name Saule Omarova as his choice to head the OCC, Bloomberg reported late Wednesday, citing three unnamed sources familiar with the nomination process. The OCC is a key regulator overseeing consumer banking and supervises large lenders such as Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase.
Omarova, a banking law professor, is expected to push for tougher oversight and rules in the industry. A native of Kazakhstan, Omarova in an October 2020 academic paper wrote about a blueprint for a “People’s Ledger,” or a comprehensive restructuring of the central bank balance sheet to democratize money and finance the world’s largest economy.
By separating the lending function from their monetary function, a proposed reform for banks would “effectively ‘end banking,’ as we know it,” with Omarova making a direct play on the title of the 2014 book, “The End of Banking: Money, Credit, and the Digital Revolution”.
Biden’s aides were vetting Omarova in August, according to The New York Times, noting that Omarova has said cryptocurrency operations could allow banks to conduct more trading activity out of oversight of the Federal Reserve and other regulators. Bloomberg reported that Omarova contends that digital tokens threaten to destabilize the economy and are vulnerable to abuse by private firms at the expense of public safeguards.
Omarova served in President George W. Bush’s administration as a special adviser for regulatory policy in the Treasury Department. She’s practiced law at Davis Polk & Wardwell, specializing in corporate transactions and advisory work in financial regulation.
If confirmed by the Senate to a five-year term, Omarova would take over from Michael Hsu, a former Fed official who has been running the OCC on an acting basis since May. Hsu this week told a blockchain panel that crypto and decentralized finance look similar to the financial instruments that sparked the 2008 global financial crisis.