President Barack Obama said Friday he will nominate Thomas Curry, a federal bank regulator, to be the U.S. comptroller of the currency.
Curry must be confirmed by the Senate. He currently serves as a director of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and heads an appeals committee within the FDIC.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency regulates about 1,500 national banks, including the nation's largest banks. The agency has been without a permanent leader since John Dugan completed a five-year term last August. John Walsh has served as acting director in the interim.
His nomination isn't expected to face opposition in the Senate. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., said Friday he planned to advance Curry's nomination for a quick vote by the panel.
Curry "has been a strong, effective director at the FDIC for the past seven years, and his experience should serve him well as the next comptroller of the currency," Johnson said in a statement. "In the aftermath of the financial crisis, it is important to have a Senate-confirmed comptroller in place."
If confirmed, Curry would continue to sit on the FDIC board.
It is Obama's first appointment of a comptroller. Dugan, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, presided over the office during the 2008 financial crisis. He was criticized by consumer advocates for opposing an effort by states to crack down on abusive lending practices. Dugan argued that it would be too costly and confusing to require banks to operate under a variety of state laws.
The comptroller's office was one of three federal agencies that in April ordered 16 of the nation's biggest mortgage lenders and servicers to reimburse homeowners who were improperly foreclosed upon. Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co., the nation's four largest banks, were among the institutions cited.
The announcement on Curry was the latest move by the White House to fill key vacant positions at U.S. financial regulatory agencies. In early June Obama nominated Martin Gruenberg as chairman of the FDIC.
Other key vacancies remain. The Federal Reserve's board of governors has two openings and there's a vacancy at the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-controlled housing finance companies. Positions created by the financial overhaul law enacted last summer also remain unfilled, including the head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.