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Biden to Name Former Ripple Advisor as OCC Head

Michael Barr, a former Treasury official and Ripple advisor, would replace Brian Brooks as Comptroller of the Currency.
According to a report today from The Wall Street Journal, President Biden is expected to nominate Michael Barr to serve as Comptroller of the Currency.

Like his predecessor, Barr would bring cryptocurrency experience to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), a US Treasury office that regulates national banks and credit unions.

In addition to working on Dodd-Frank banking reforms in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, when he was Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions at the Treasury, Barr was named an advisor to Ripple Labs in 2015.

“I’m excited to be joining the Advisory Board of Ripple Labs,” Barr said at the time. “Our global payments system is badly outdated. I think innovation in payments can help make the financial system safer, reduce cost, and improve access and efficiency for consumers and businesses alike.”

Ripple has a major stake in XRP, the fifth-largest cryptocurrency by market cap. That’s caught the SEC’s attention. The agency last month sued Ripple Labs and two of its executives for more than $1 billion in relation to alleged sales of an unregistered security—XRP.

Barr is no longer listed as an advisor to the firm. Ripple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Outgoing acting OCC head Brian Brooks also had links to the crypto industry. Before taking over the role in May, Brooks was Chief Legal Officer of Coinbase.

During his short term, Brooks sought to bring cryptocurrency into the mainstream finance world. Late in his tenure, the OCC issued guidance that banks could use blockchains and stablecoins for payment activities.

However, Brooks took heat from a handful of Congressional Democrats, who objected to his cryptocurrency focus during COVID, while the Treasury struggled to distribute stimulus payments to ordinary Americans

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