OCC is too caught up in crypto under former Coinbase exec, congresspeople say

Brian Brooks, the former Coinbase executive turned leader of the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, or OCC, recently received a letter from multiple members of Congress expressing concerns over his crypto-heavy leadership.

The letter, from Stephen Lynch and Rashida Tlaib, two congresspeople for Massachusetts and Michigan respectively, also holds signatures from Jesús García, Deb Haaland, Barbara Lee and Ayanna Pressley — representatives from Illinois, New Mexico, California and Massachusetts. 

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The letter references the OCC’s “recent unilateral actions in the digital financial activities space, including interpretive letters on cryptocurrency custody, stablecoins, and its announced plans to start offering special purpose ‘payments’ charters,” a media statement from Tlaib said yesterday. 

The crypto industry has seen a number of key regulatory clarity decisions in 2020, in part thanks to the OCC under Brooks. In July, federally chartered banks received regulatory approval for crypto custody, while September ushered in approval for stablecoin reserve custody by such banks.

“Given the limited statutory authority of the OCC, we urge the Comptroller to seriously reconsider the implications of a unilateral approach and instead invite the OCC to collaborate with other regulators and Congress on these issues,” the letter reads.