Magazine article American Banker

Comptroller's Top Job in Swaps Seen Likely to Be Vacant for Most of Year

Magazine article American Banker

Comptroller's Top Job in Swaps Seen Likely to Be Vacant for Most of Year

Article excerpt

An imminent departure from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is expected to leave its top policymaking position in derivatives vacant until after the November election.

No names have surfaced as possible successors to Douglas Harris, deputy comptroller for capital markets. But observers say the agency probably will seek someone with private-sector credentials, as Mr. Harris has. Before joining the OCC he was in charge of futures operations at J.P. Morgan & Co.

"I would expect the Comptroller's Office would want someone with Doug's type of qualifications so the agency can be at the forefront of framing the issues in this market," said Paul L. Lee, general counsel of Republic New York Corp.

Mr. Lee and others said the appointment of Mr. Harris in 1993 was fortunate for the over-the-counter derivatives market in the United States.

"He was hired at a time when derivatives and off-balance-sheet items were becoming important issues from a regulatory standpoint," said Richard Whiting, general counsel and senior director with the Bankers Roundtable in Washington. "It was absolutely critical for the OCC to get up to speed on this."

At the OCC, Mr. Harris is best known for the October 1993 issuance of Banking Circular 277, which gave examiners and banks their first guidance on managing the risks of derivatives products.

A year later, Mr. Harris' office issued an advisory notice on the use of structured notes, again the first such regulatory move in this area. …

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