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New Candidate for Top Bank Regulator Sees Risks in Crypto and Fintechs


After Mr. Otting’s departure in May 2020, Brian P. Brooks served as acting comptroller. Twice, Mr. Trump submitted his nomination for a full term, but the Senate never moved to confirm him. Mr. Brooks signed off on a new regulatory structure for fintech companies that gave them more power to make loans without having to adhere to state limits on the amount of interest they can charge borrowers they deem risky.

Mr. Brooks was a former chief legal officer of Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange. After his O.C.C. stint, he became chief executive of another cryptocurrency exchange, Binance.US. While the O.C.C. does not directly regulate cryptocurrencies, it has begun to weigh in on how banks can use digital payments systems.

Both men appeared to cultivate warm relationships with at least one chief executive of a bank: Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan. A series of emails obtained by The New York Times via a Freedom of Information Act request provides a glimpse into the easy back-and-forth between Mr. Dimon and his bank’s main regulator.

In 2018, Mr. Otting thanked Mr. Dimon for being “among those that want our country to be the best it can be.” The next year, when Mr. Otting informed Mr. Dimon that the O.C.C. would be reducing its regulatory fees for 2020, the JPMorgan chief responded: “What a wonderful year end treat and surprise! Thank you for caring about the financial health of the banking sector and for the disciplined approach you are taking around expenses. It is excellent to see.”

The friendly exchanges continued with Mr. Brooks. On May 21, 2020, the day the O.C.C. announced that Mr. Otting was stepping down and Mr. Brooks would take his place, Mr. Dimon and Mr. Brooks connected for a phone call. After the call, Mr. Dimon wrote: “Brian, I enjoyed our phone call this morning and want to reiterate that we are here to support your efforts in any way we can.”

Mr. Brooks responded, “Likewise,” and added: “I’ll have my assistant reach out next week with some times when we can get on the phone and I can run through a few policy agenda items with you and get your take on a handful of other things I could use your perspective on. Very much appreciate your outreach — made my day!”

Mr. Otting, who received questions from The Times about his correspondence with Mr. Dimon through the general manager of the golf club he co-owns in Las Vegas, did not respond to a request for comment.


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