Top Comptroller of Currency official quitting

Julie Williams is stepping down as chief counsel at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in September, after nearly two decades at the banking agency.

Williams served as top legal adviser for four different OCC chiefs while the agency developed a reputation for being a lenient regulator. Her departure may signal a shift in perspective at the agency.

During her tenure, Williams was at the center of a number of contentious debates over the protection of banks to the detriment of consumers. Consumer advocates railed against her creation of the agency’s preemption rules, which they say prevented states from protecting consumers against predatory lending.

In announcing her departure, the agency credited Williams for applying the Federal Trade Commission Act’s ban on unfair and deceptive practices to protect bank customers. She also was praised for being an advocate of stronger bank privacy policies and disclosures.

“In her 19 years at the OCC, her contributions to the agency and her role in the world of financial services regulation have been extraordinary,” Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry said in a statement.

Deputy chief counsel Daniel P. Stipano will serve as acting chief while the agency looks for Williams’ replacement. No explanation was given for her departure.

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