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Posted at 1:40 PM ET, 12/20/2010

Former comptroller of currency Dugan returning to Covington & Burling

By Amanda Becker, Capitol Business

Former Comptroller of Currency John C. Dugan, who helmed the federal agency during the 2008 financial bailout, will be rejoining the District law firm Covington & Burling next month, the firm announced Monday afternoon.

Dugan, appointed by President George W. Bush in 2005, led the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency during the financial crisis of 2008, helping to manage the bailout of major banking institutions and drafting financial reform legislation. The federal agency, an independent bureau of the Treasury Department, is charged with chartering and regulating more than1,500 national banks that hold roughly two-thirds of the assets in the country's commercial banking system.

Dugan's tenure at the OCC was marked by repeated disagreements with state regulators and Chairman Sheila C. Bair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. over how to best strengthen banking regulation. Dugan, who also sat on the FDIC board, believed that oversight of the nation's largest banks was best handled by the Federal Reserve, not the FDIC or state regulators.

At times, Dugan was criticized as being partial to bank interests. He disgreed with the Obama administration and other regulators about consumer-protection provisions within financial reform legislation, arguing that the main focus of his agency was protecting the health of the nation's banking system.

"The mission [of the OCC] fundamentally is to guard the safety and soundness of institutions. That's a critical, core function of the OCC," Dugan said.

After leaving the agency after his five-year term ended in August, Dugan considered joining financial institutions, consultancies and accounting firms before deciding to return to Covington & Burling, where he practiced from 1993 until joining the OCC.

"It was a nice point to leave, as the financial institutions began to figure out how to comply with the new laws and adapt to the new world," Dugan said in an interview Monday.

At Covington, Dugan will chair the firm's financial institutions group, drawing on his experience shaping key regulatory legislation such as the Dodd-Frank financial reform package and from his membership on the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, which recommends international banking standards for some of the world's largest nations.

Before his first tenure at Covington, the University of Michigan and Harvard Law School graduate served as counsel to the Senate committee on banking and within the Treasury Department. under Bush.

By Amanda Becker, Capitol Business  | December 20, 2010; 1:40 PM ET
Categories:  Financial regulation, U.S. Economy, U.S. Treasury, White House  
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Next: Economic agenda: Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010

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