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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Jelena McWilliams to resign as FDIC chairman

Bank Regulatory Federal Issues Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FDIC CFPB Bank Mergers

On December 31, Jelena McWilliams announced her resignation as FDIC Chairman effective February 4. McWilliams, who was appointed in 2018, noted in her resignation letter to President Biden that throughout her tenure at the agency the FDIC “has focused on its fundamental mission to maintain and instill confidence in our banking system while at the same time promoting innovation, strengthening financial inclusion, improving transparency, and supporting community banks and minority depository institutions, including through the creation of the Mission Driven Bank Fund.” She also credited FDIC staff for taking swift measures to maintain stability and provide flexibility for banks and consumers impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

McWilliams’ resignation follows a conflict among members of the FDIC Board of Directors related to a joint request for information (RFI) seeking public comment on revisions to the FDIC’s framework for vetting proposed bank mergers. Last month, FDIC Board member Martin J. Gruenberg and Rohit Chopra (who has an automatic board seat as Director of the CFPB) issued a joint statement announcing that the FDIC Board of Directors voted to launch a public comment period on updating the FDIC’s regulatory implementation of the Bank Merger Act. Gruenberg and Chopra indicated at the time that the Board members taking part in this action had approved the RFI. Shortly following the announcement, the FDIC released a statement disputing that any action had been approved. (Covered by InfoBytes here.) Chopra issued a follow-up statement challenging the view that only the FDIC Chairperson has the right to raise matters for discussion in Board meetings, and called for “immediate[]” resolution of the conflict, stating that “[a]bsent a return to legal reality and constructive engagement, board members will need to take further steps to exercise independence from management and to ensure sound governance of the [FDIC].” (Covered by InfoBytes here.)