Chris Van Hollen

United States Senator for Maryland

Van Hollen: Otting’s Work at OneWest Stands in Direct Contrast to the Mission of the OCC

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Today U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, member of the Senate Banking Committee, wrote to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin about the outstanding ethics issues surrounding Keith Noreika, the acting head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Specifically, the Senator called on Mr. Noreika to voluntarily take President Trump’s ethics pledge to give taxpayers confidence that he is acting in their best interest.

Senator Van Hollen also raised serious concerns about the new OCC nominee, Joseph Otting.

“As you know, the OCC is an independent regulator that plays a critical role in the U.S. financial system. The OCC is responsible for ensuring that financial institutions are appropriately supervised and do not take advantage of consumers,” the Senator wrote. “As our nation faced a housing crisis that devastated our economy, OneWest put profits before working families and engaged in various ‘unsafe or unsound practices.’  That stands in direct contrast to the mission of the OCC.”

The full text of the letter is below and here.

Dear Secretary Mnuchin,

I am writing to follow up on your May 17, 2017 letter responding to my colleagues’ and my inquiry about the appointment of Keith Noreika to be acting head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Your letter did not respond to the specific questions we asked, and it also raised additional questions:

  • Why were you willing to install Mr. Noreika as Comptroller of the Currency before his ethics pre-vetting had been certified and made public to the American people?
  • Will you ask Mr. Noreika to voluntarily take President Trump’s ethics pledge, giving taxpayers confidence that Mr. Noreika is acting in their best interest? This would help ensure that he does not leave the OCC and immediately go back to representing and lobbying for the institutions that the OCC is currently responsible for supervising.

The Administration recently announced that Joseph Otting is their nominee to be Comptroller of the Currency. Putting forward a candidate to be vetted by the Senate instead of installing one is a step that is long overdue, but it does not remedy this unacceptable situation that will continue until the Senate votes to confirm a nominee.

I also have reservations about the President’s decision to nominate Mr. Otting, as his time at OneWest Bank and his work there with you raises deep concerns about his independence and commitment to protecting working families.

As you know, the OCC is an independent regulator that plays a critical role in the U.S. financial system. The OCC is responsible for ensuring that financial institutions are appropriately supervised and do not take advantage of consumers. As our nation faced a housing crisis that devastated our economy, OneWest put profits before working families and engaged in various “unsafe or unsound practices.” That stands in direct contrast to the mission of the OCC.

Please respond to these questions prior to June 21, 2017, in advance of our next Banking Committee hearing.

Sincerely,

Issues: 

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