WASHINGTON – Joseph A. Smith, Jr., who will monitor the 49-state mortgage settlement with the five largest servicers, resigned Tuesday as North Carolina’s bank commissioner.

Smith, 62, has served as the state’s bank commissioner since 2002. His resignation, which was expected given the wide scope of his new responsibilities, becomes effective Thursday.

“I have enjoyed my tenure as commissioner of banks and have done my best to promote the strength and fairness of North Carolina’s financial markets,” Smith said in a written statement. “I hope my efforts as monitor will contribute to the recovery of the mortgage market and the health of our economy.”

Smith is a former counsel for Centura Banks of Rocky Mount, N.C., which was bought in 2001 by Royal Bank of Canada. From 2009 to 2010, he was chairman of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors.

Smith drew praise from North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue, a Democrat, for being a staunch defender of consumers and a firm but fair regulator.

“He played a critical role in eliminating the abuses of payday lending, strengthening anti-predatory lending and fighting abuses in mortgage lending,” Perdue said in a statement.

Smith will stay in Raleigh, N.C., during his three-year tenure as monitor of the mortgage settlement, the final terms of which have yet to be announced.

The state’s chief deputy bank commissioner, Ray Grace, will serve as acting commissioner, the North Carolina Office of the Commissioner of Banks announced.

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