Trump to Nominate Jelena McWilliams as FDIC Chief -- Update

By Ryan Tracy and Nick Timiraos Features Dow Jones Newswires

President Donald Trump will nominate regional bank executive Jelena McWilliams to lead the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the White House said Thursday.

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Ms. McWilliams has worked as a lawyer at the Federal Reserve and on the Republican staff of the Senate Banking Committee. She is currently chief legal officer of Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bancorp.

The nomination moves Mr. Trump closer to rounding out a team that can carry out his promise to revisit financial regulations adopted under President Barack Obama.

The FDIC shares oversight of the U.S. banking system with several other agencies, including the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve.

Just this week, Mr. Trump's nominee to lead the OCC took control of the agency, his pick to lead the Fed got a positive reception at a confirmation hearing, and he installed an acting chief of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The FDIC is currently led by an Obama nominee, Martin Gruenberg, who has pushed for strict rules on large Wall Street banks and warned against deregulation in a Nov. 14 speech. Mr. Gruenberg's term as chairman ended Nov. 29. He can continue serving until a successor is in place, and has said he intends to do so.

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The FDIC is tasked with preventing bank runs by insuring deposits and managing bank failures. It also supervises thousands of community banks and, along with the Fed, reviews whether the largest U.S. banks have credible "living wills" showing how they could go through bankruptcy without needing a taxpayer bailout.

The FDIC is also an important agency because banking regulators typically write rules jointly. Mr. Trump's team will need FDIC signoff to make far-reaching changes to regulations such as the Volcker rule, which bans banks from making wagers with their own money, or bank capital rules.

Ms. McWilliams's personal views on financial regulation aren't well known. She has spent less time in the public spotlight than Mr. Trump's other financial regulatory nominees.

The White House said Ms. McWilliams has political science and law degrees from the University of California at Berkeley, and practiced corporate and securities law before entering public service in 2007, serving three years at the Fed and then six years in the Senate.

At the Senate banking panel, she worked for Sens. Richard Shelby (R., Ala.) and Mike Crapo (R., Idaho), both of whom are skeptical of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial-overhaul law and the resulting rules implemented under the Obama administration.

She helped craft a 2015 proposal from Mr. Shelby that would have revamped aspects of Dodd-Frank, including raising the $50 billion asset threshold at which big banks are subject to stricter oversight.

The White House earlier nominated longtime congressional staffer James Clinger as FDIC chairman, but he withdrew this summer, citing family obligations. Ms. McWilliams's candidacy for the job had been previously reported.

Write to Ryan Tracy at ryan.tracy@wsj.com and Nick Timiraos at nick.timiraos@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 30, 2017 20:07 ET (01:07 GMT)