Resistance Grows to Big Bank and Cryptocurrency Critic for the OCC Chair
Cryptocurrency regulations continue to stall in the United States, with regulators and industry players seemingly unable to reach a consensus. At the same time, the Biden administration appears to be having trouble with its latest financial regulatory candidate.
Saule Omarova Could Regulate Crypto Into ‘Oblivion’
This week, tensions appear to mount in Washington as resistance grows against President Biden’s pick to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The proposed agency head - Cornell University Law School professor Saule Omarova - has been broadly criticized for her policy proposals and her views of cryptocurrencies and large banking institutions. Earlier this week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx) took to Twitter to criticize Omarova’s proposed appointment, calling her a “danger to our traditional economy.” The former Presidential candidate stated that Omarova’s selection would essentially lead to crypto being regulated “into oblivion,” adding that her nomination needs to be stopped. President Biden had announced Omarova’s nomination to lead the OCC last week. Bloomberg was the first to report the nomination, citing that she could be confirmed before the end of the month. In her time at Cornell, Omarova has shown significant signs of seeking tighter regulations for big banks and cryptocurrencies. She has especially described the crypto sector as threatening to the stability of the economy and ripe for abuse by large financial institutions. She has also offered some radical recommendations for running the finance industry, including advocating for the Federal Reserve to exclusively administer consumer banking services - not private companies. With the Democrats holding a slim majority in the Senate, there are significant fears that Omarova will eventually be confirmed as the new OCC head. But, big players in the banking sector have started lobbying against her appointment, and Congress members have raised their voice in opposition too. Besides Cruz, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) has also called for a review of Omarova’s nomination. The Senator, who serves as the ranking member on the Senate’s Banking Committee, commented last week that he had reservations about Omarova due to her “extreme leftist ideas.”
Washington Is Changing
Omarova’s pick is just the latest move by the Biden administration to beef up its financial regulatory landscape. Just this week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that Dan Berkovitz - one of the three commissioners at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) - will be joining the agency as general counsel in November. Berkovitz’s departure from the CFTC follows President Biden’s selection of Christy Goldsmith and Kristin Johnson to fill the agency seats left vacant by former Chairman Heath Tarbert and Brian Quintenz. Berkovitz has been quite critical of financial regulators and their action against crypto companies, so his addition to the SEC seems to be a good thing for crypto. Berkovitz will be the second major pro-crypto name at the SEC, joining commissioner Hester M. Pierce.
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