What is the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency?

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is a federal body in charge of enforcing national bank legislation.

It licenses, regulates, and supervises national banks as well as federal branches and agencies of international banks operating in the United States. The OCC is led by the Comptroller of the Currency, who is chosen by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency was established by the National Currency Act of 1863 to license, control, and oversee all national banks and federal savings organizations in the United States. The purpose of the OCC is to guarantee that these banks "run in a safe and sound environment," treat their clients fairly, and provide equitable access to financial services, all while complying with US legislation and rules.

The OCC is based in Washington DC but has offices in 60 locations around the United States. It also has a London office that is in charge of supervising the overseas activities of US banks.

The role of the OCC

The OCC also enforces anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing legislation, detecting and investigating misbehavior and suspicious activity across all banks and licensed branches as part of its goal to maintain the safety and fairness of the US financial system. 

Structure of the OCC

The OCC oversees the foreign activity of national banks through four district offices and a London office. National banks and federal savings organizations or thrifts are subjected to on-site inspections by bank examiners. They supervise the institution by looking at its loan and investment portfolios, money management, capital, earnings, liquidity, and market risk sensitivity. Examiners also assess management's capacity to detect and control risk, as well as internal controls and compliance with applicable rules and laws.

The OCC's Authority

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) can approve or deny new licenses, branches, capital, and other banking system changes. For violation of rules and regulations, they may take supervisory action against banks under their authority. The agency also has the power to fire officers and directors. Other powers include the ability to reach agreements with banks to modify their practices, levy monetary fines, and issue and desist orders.

The Office of the Comptroller took responsibility for the continuous evaluation, supervision, and regulation of federal savings organizations following the Dodd-Frank Act. In the same month, the OCC published a final rule implementing various sections of the Dodd-Frank Act, including modifications to help the Office of Thrift Supervision transfer operations.

The Mission of the OCC

The OCC's declared mission is to improve the US financial system by serving as "a source of information and experience." The OCC aspires to establish a banking system that “benefits consumers, communities, companies, and the US economy” — and works to achieve that goal on a regular basis.