Magazine article American Banker

For OCC's Rep, the Situation Can Be Sticky

Magazine article American Banker

For OCC's Rep, the Situation Can Be Sticky

Article excerpt

Thomas E. Zemke is a man in the middle.

Though employed by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, he is stationed at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Comptroller Eugene A. Ludwig holds one of the five seats on the FDIC's board and relies on Mr. Zemke to keep him up to speed on matters before the agency.

While the two agencies work together on many fronts, they also compete for the regulatory limelight. Even after seven years in the job, Mr. Zemke is an outsider at the FDIC.

"He's in a very difficult position, because when FDIC people talk to him, they have to carefully consider what information is going where," says Robert Miailovich, the FDIC's former associate director of supervision. "That makes it difficult to always be as frank with Tom as you want to be."

Mr. Zemke, whose only office is at the FDIC and whose secretary is an FDIC employee, admits to feeling like a foreigner at times.

"Sometimes I really have to rely on the good network I've developed among FDIC employees," he says.

A big part of his job is providing Mr. Ludwig with the perspective of an "insurer" of financial institutions, rather than the comptroller's primary role as the regulator of national banks.

Besides briefing Mr. Ludwig at least twice a week on matters before the FDIC board, Mr. Zemke says his job entails keeping the comptroller in the loop. For example, when FDIC chief financial officer William A. Longbrake turned in his resignation to Chairman Ricki Helfer on Aug. …

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