The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is an independent bureau within the United States Department of the Treasury that was established by the National Currency Act of 1863 and serves to charter, regulate, and supervise all national banks and thrift institutions and the federal branches and agencies of foreign banks in the United States. The Comptroller of the Currency is Joseph Otting.
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 an independent bureau of the United States Department of the Treasury and is headed by the Comptroller of the Currency, appointed to a five-year term by the President with the consent of the Senate.
The OCC pursues a number of main objectives:
- to ensure the safety and soundness of the national banking system;
- to foster competition by allowing banks to offer new products and services;
- to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of OCC supervision especially to reduce the regulatory burden;
- to ensure fair and equal access to financial services to all Americans;
- to enforce anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism finance laws that apply to national banks and federally licensed branches and agencies of international banks; and
- to investigate 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 integrity of the federal 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, providing fair access and treatment to customers, and complying with all applicable laws and regulations. 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 federal banking system, ensure it operates in a safe and sound manner, and treats customers fairly.
The OCC regulates and supervises about 1,400 national banks, federal savings associations,and federal branches of foreign banks in the United States, accounting for more than two-thirds of the total assets of all U.S. commercial banks (as of March 2017).
Other regulatory agencies like the OCC include: the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (of which the Comptroller serves as a director), the Federal Reserve, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the National Credit Union Administration. The OCC routinely interacts and cooperates with other government agencies, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 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 serves as a director of the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.