Staffer John Walsh named acting comptroller of currency, replacing John Dugan

By Brady Dennis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 24, 2010; A09

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner on Friday named a top staffer at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to be acting director of the agency when John C. Dugan leaves office next month.

John G. Walsh, chief of staff and public affairs at the office since October 2005, will inherit an agency with expanded regulatory authority granted by the massive financial overhaul law signed by President Obama this week. During the next year, the regulator will absorb the Office of Thrift Supervision, begin to craft rules to implement portions of the far-reaching financial legislation and work with international regulators to craft new capital standards.

Walsh previously served as executive director of the Group of 30, a nonprofit organization that studies economic issues. He also has held positions on the Senate banking committee and was an international economist for the Treasury Department. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and holds a master's degree from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Walsh succeeds Dugan, a banking lawyer who was appointed in August 2005 by President George W. Bush. Dugan's tenure included repeated conflicts with state regulators over a doctrine known as preemption.

State attorneys general have said that they often spotted abusive and unsound banking practices far sooner than federal regulators and should have been able to impose tougher limits on firms. Dugan and the comptroller's office, however, asserted an exclusive right to police the activities of banks with national charters. The courts generally sided with the office, upholding its right to preempt state laws.

Much of Dugan's term was defined by the recent financial crisis. "It is hard to imagine a more challenging period for banking than these last few years," he said in his final speech as comptroller this week. "At the same time, we know that new crises will emerge, and all the changes put in motion by the last crisis will be extremely important for regulators to implement wisely."

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