OCC official tied to Wells Fargo scandal lands role overseeing midsize banks

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Last year, the former top regulatory official overseeing Wells Fargo stood accused of improperly disclosing sensitive information about a government investigation to the scandal-plagued bank.

Now Bradley Linskens is getting a new job at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, where he has worked for more than two decades.

Linskens, who was examiner-in-charge at the San Francisco bank, will become an associate deputy comptroller for midsize-bank supervision, according to an internal email obtained by American Banker. The email, which was sent Monday, states that Linskens will oversee an OCC team that is based in Chicago.

“Brad brings a breadth and depth of experience, knowledge and supervisory talent to the position, and a valuable perspective gleaned from his 20 years in Large Bank Supervision,” William Haas, the agency’s deputy comptroller for midsize bank supervision, wrote in the email.

It could not be determined Wednesday what Linskens’ salary will be. In 2017, the last year for which data was available, he was paid a salary of $268,000, according to FederalPay.org, which publishes information on government employees’ compensation.

Linskens joined the OCC in 1993 and was named a senior national bank examiner in 2016. As examiner-in-charge for Wells Fargo, he was based in San Francisco, where he reportedly managed a team of more than 60 people.

On April 7, 2017, multiple anonymously sourced news reports stated Linskens had been removed from his role as the top examiner at Wells. That same day, the OCC asked the Treasury inspector general to look into allegedly inappropriate disclosures by the OCC’s examiner-in-charge at Wells Fargo. That request led the inspector general to open an investigation.

In the wake of the April 2017 news reports, Linskens filed a lawsuit against the OCC, seeking information regarding agency correspondence with reporters about him. The case was dismissed after the OCC provided emails to Linskens.

The Treasury inspector general’s report found that the OCC’s examiner-in-charge at Wells Fargo improperly disclosed the existence of a government investigation to the bank. The name of the examiner-in-charge was blacked out in the version of the report that was made public, but Linskens held the job during the time period that was under scrutiny.

The specific issues that were allegedly revealed to Wells Fargo have not been made public.

The report did state that the improperly disclosed probe was being conducted by the Treasury inspector general’s office. As a general matter, OCC employees are not allowed to discuss a pending inspector general investigation with the subject of the probe unless they receive approval to do so.

The inspector general’s allegation of improper disclosures was first reported by American Banker in March 2018.

In addition to the disclosure of information about an inspector general probe, the watchdog agency investigated whether the OCC’s examiner-in-charge at Wells disclosed information regarding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and internal OCC discussions, but it did not substantiate those allegations.

In the fall of 2016, the CFPB, the OCC and the L.A. City Attorney’s Office collaborated to hit Wells Fargo with $185 million in penalties after discovering that employees opened more than 2 million unauthorized customer accounts in order to meet sales targets. Linskens continued to be employed by the OCC throughout both the inspector general’s 2017 investigation and his own lawsuit against the OCC.

Most recently, Linskens has been working as supervisory strategy and resource director on the OCC’s large-bank supervision team, according to the internal email that announced his new role.

OCC spokesman Bryan Hubbard declined Wednesday to comment on whether Linskens was punished in the wake of the inspector general’s findings, saying that the agency does not discuss individual disciplinary matters.

Hubbard also declined to say what Linskens’ new salary will be, though he noted that such information can be obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Other OCC employees who have the same title as Linskens are in a pay band that maxes out at $268,400, not including merit bonuses and certain other types of payments such as retention incentives, according to Hubbard.

Linskens did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rob Blackwell and Kate Berry contributed to this report.

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