Biden to nominate anti-crypto and anti-big bank law professor to run the OCC

The Biden administration reportedly intends to nominate Kazakhstani-American attorney, academic and former policy advisor Saule Omarova to head the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) — the institution that oversees the U.S. banking sector.

Omarova has levied criticisms at both crypto assets and the legacy banking sector in the past, having once pledged to “end banking as we know it”. She has characterized cryptocurrency as “benefiting mainly the dysfunctional financial system we already have.”

According to a Sept. 22 report from Bloomberg citing three anonymous sources “familiar with the nomination process,” Omarova could be nominated as soon as this week.

Currently working as a law professor at Cornell University Law School, Omarova is expected to seek tighter regulations for crypto as she has described the sector as threatening the stability of the economy and ripe for abuse from large private financial entities. The academic specializes in banking law and corporate finance.

If confirmed, Omarova’s tenure at the OCC would likely comprise a significant shift from the previous administration, with former Coinbase legal officer and crypto proponent Brian Brooks having headed the agency toward the end of Trump’s presidency.

Omarova has also offered radical prescriptions for the finance industry, having advocated for consumer banking services to exclusively be administered by the Federal Reserve rather than private institutions. She previously served as a special adviser for regulatory policy to the U.S. Treasury Department during George W. Bush’s presidency.

However, analysts don’t believe Omarova will get the OCC jobwithout a fight, with the Democrats currently holding a slim majority in the Senate and the banking sector expected to lobby against her appointment.

If appointed, Omarova would become the first woman to formally lead the agency, although the OCC has been directed by a female acting head in the past.

Related: CFTC commissioner: Agency doesn’t have enforcement resources without Congress

The New York Times reported that the Biden administration had started vetting Omarova for the role in early August.

While the Democrats were previously considering former Treasury official Michael Barr and law professor Mehra Baradaran for the role, they were dropped after the Democrats decided neither candidate was likely to garner enough support to secure confirmation.

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