OCC Promotes Ombudsman to New Role

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WASHINGTON — Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry has promoted the agency's key bank mediator, Ombudsman Larry Hattix, into a newly created role as Senior Deputy Comptroller for Enterprise Governance.

Hattix, who spent much of his time handling disputes between bankers and examiners, will also oversee the OCC's customer assistance group. Under the new role, Hattix will be a member of the OCC's Executive Committee.

"Larry has played a critical leadership role at the OCC since taking over as Ombudsman in January of 2008," said Comptroller Curry in the announcement. "This promotion and the elevation of the enterprise governance function reflect the growing realization that enterprise governance is a key part of moving our agency forward."

Curry has repeatedly stressed to banks the need to focus on operational risk since becoming Comptroller in April 2012. The new role is designed to amplify that focus internally.

"Elevating enterprise governance to the agency's Executive Committee demonstrates my commitment to ensuring that we follow the same high standards we set for the institutions we supervise," Curry said.

Hattix started at the OCC 25 years ago as a bank examiner in Illinois. Hattix was additionally assigned to handle examiner disputes last year after the OCC was prompted by lawmakers to provide a way to allow examiners to elevate concerns. In an interview with American Banker last year, Hattix argued an appeals process outside of the agency — an idea some lawmakers have been promoting — would only prolong the entire supervision process.

"Our concern is that creating an outside bureaucracy to hear appeals will significantly delay exam processing," Hattix said in an interview last April. "[It would also] delay corrective actions that our supervisory process determines are necessary for the safe and sound operation of that bank or savings association."

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