The Trump administration moved Wednesday to replace the top banking regulator, an Obama holdover, with its own person.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Wednesday morning that corporate lawyer Keith Noreika will replace Thomas Curry, the comptroller of the currency, as acting comptroller on Friday.
Curry, an Obama appointee, has been serving on an extended basis since his term expired in April.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, housed within the Treasury, is one of the three main bank regulatory agencies, responsible for overseeing nationally chartered banks and keeping regulators physically within bank offices throughout the country.
Trump has called on regulators to identify ways to lighten the burden of regulations on the financial industry. They are expected to report back in June. Major changes to many bank rules, however, would require cooperation between the OCC and the Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, both of which remain headed by Obama appointees.
The Trump administration is reported to be considering replacing Curry on a permanent basis with Joseph Otting, a former bank CEO who worked with Mnuchin at OneWest.
In the meantime, Noreika will be in charge of the agency.
"Keith Noreika has deep experience in helping banks operate in a safe and sound manner, provide fair access to financial services, and provide credit needed for business expansion and job growth," Mnuchin said in a statement announcing that he had appointed Noreika first deputy comptroller, the position from which he will be made acting comptroller.
Noreika, a partner at the firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, has represented banks in their dealings with regulators.
Sherrod Brown, the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, immediately criticized the administration's move. "It is disturbing that the President is rushing to replace Mr. Curry with an acting appointee who has clear conflicts of interest, and lacks any experience in running such an important agency," Brown, a top critic of Wall Street practices, said in a statement.