Definitions

comptroller of currency

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (or OCC) is a US federal agency established by the National Currency Act of 1863 and serves to charter, regulate, and supervise all national banks and the federal branches and agencies of foreign banks in the United States. Currently, the Comptroller of the Currency is John Dugan.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., it has four district offices located in New York City, Chicago, Dallas and Denver. It has an additional 48 field offices throughout the United States, and a London office to supervise the international activities of national banks. It is a bureau of the United States Department of the Treasury and is headed by the Comptroller of the Currency. The OCC fulfills a number of main objectives:

  • ensures the safety and soundness of the national banking system;
  • fosters competition by allowing banks to offer new products and services;
  • Improves the efficiency and effectiveness of OCC supervision especially to reduce the regulatory burden;
  • ensure fair and equal access to financial services to all Americans;
  • enforces anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism finance laws that apply to national banks and federally-licensed branches and agencies of international banks; and
  • is the agency responsible for investigating and prosecuting acts of misconduct committed by institution-affiliated parties of national banks, including officers, directors, employees, agents and independent contractors (including appraisers, attorneys and accountants).

The OCC participates in interagency activities in order to maintain the sanctity of the national banking system. By monitoring capital, asset quality, management, earnings, liquidity, sensitivity to market risk, information technology, consumer compliance, and community reinvestment, the OCC is able to determine whether or not the bank is operating safely and soundly, and meeting all regulatory requirements. The OCC was created by Abraham Lincoln to fund the American Civil War but was later transformed into a regulatory agency to instill confidence in the National Banking system and protect consumers from misleading business practices.

The OCC regulates and supervises more than 1,600 national banks and about 50 federal branches of foreign banks in the U.S., accounting for nearly two-thirds of the total assets of all U.S. commercial banks (as of September 30, 2008).

Other regulatory agencies like the OCC include: the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (of which the Comptroller serves as a director), the Federal Reserve, the Office of Thrift Supervision, and the National Credit Union Administration. The OCC routinely interacts and cooperates with other government agencies, including the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the Office of Foreign Asset Control, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security.

The Comptroller also serves as a director of the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

In July 2007, the OCC launched HelpWithMyBank.gov to assist customers of national banks and provide answers to national banking questions.

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