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What is the OCC?
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is an independent limb of the US Treasury, which is responsible for overseeing federal banking within the United States.
What does the OCC do?
The Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC) is an independent branch of the US Department of the Treasury that regulates and supervises all national banks, federal savings associations and the federal branches and agencies of foreign banks. It is the primary institution that issues bank rulings and provides legislative interpretation for banks.
The OCC visits all banks it oversees. It can impose corrective measures and protects consumers by ensuring banks give fair access with consumer banking laws. It is essentially a representative for the government and US citizens to ensure that financial institutions are not abusing their power.
A brief history of the OCC
The OCC was formally established on February 25, 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln. President Lincoln signed the National Currency Act, thus creating the OCC. Under the National Currency Act, the OCC was responsible for administering a system of nationally chartered banks in addition to creating a central national currency. Over the next 50 years, thousands of banks were created and were regulated under its supervision.
The OCC has been through many changes since it was established. Its powers were supplemented by the creation of the Federal Reserve System in 1913. It played a crucial role in maintaining economic stability throughout World War I and World War II. Today, the organisation plays a vital role in ensuring economic stability, recovery and promoting responsible innovation by banks.
Supervision and examination
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency holds the power to supervise and examine any bank or federal savings association. It routinely sends their examiners to financial institutions to check if compliance measures are being followed.
Where banks and federal saving associations are not compliant, the OCC maintains the ability to enforce regulations. It makes the rules and the enforcement guidelines. Upon violation of regulations, it can choose to take “supervisory actions”. These supervisory actions can include civil penalties, supervisory letters and further inspections.
Licensing and chartering
The OCC is the primary institution for licensure and chartering for banks and federal savings associations. These institutions will often have to go through the regulator if major structural changes are made to their organisation. Any legal financial institution will have to go through the OCC’s in-depth process to become chartered or licensed
Who is regulated by the OCC?
All national banks in the US are regulated by the OCC. It is the primary regulator for banks; they can regulate, charter, fine and close any bank that violates their legislation. It governs and examines all banks in the US.
Federal savings associations
Federal savings associations are also regulated by the OCC. Federal saving associations can perform many of the same services that banks do, so they need to be similarly regulated. All federal savings associations located in the United States come under the direct supervision of the OCC. Due to the size of most federal savings associations, any mismanagement can cause considerable consumers harm. The regulator has the ability to make new regulations and fine federal saving associations.