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OCC Publishes Standards on the Use of an Independent Consultant

 

Nov 14 - The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has published standards governing the use of independent consultants in enforcement actions involving significant violations of law, fraud or harm to consumers.

The standards describe the criteria the OCC will use in determining whether the agency would require a national bank or federal savings association to retain a consultant, as well as the institution’s obligation to exercise due diligence to ensure the consultant has sufficient independence, capacity, resources and expertise. The guidance clarifies how the OCC will determine whether the contracts and work plan adequately address agency’s supervisory concerns. Finally, the standards describe the process for reviewing consultant qualifications and the contractual terms for the engagement, as well as the appropriate oversight of the consultant’s performance.

“Properly used, independent consultants can help further important supervisory objectives, particularly in the context of enforcement actions,” said Comptroller of the Currency Thomas J. Curry. “However, while consultants can provide knowledge, expertise and additional resources, we must take care to ensure they maintain independence and are subject to appropriate oversight. The standards we are publishing today help us achieve those important objectives while ensuring that a consultant’s conclusion is never substituted for the OCC’s supervisory oversight.”

The use of an independent consultant does not absolve bank management or its board of directors of their responsibility for ensuring the bank complies with OCC enforcement actions and takes all necessary actions to correct identified deficiencies. Moreover, an independent consultant is not a substitute for the supervisory judgment of the OCC. The OCC retains responsibility for supervising national banks and federal savings associations, including overseeing and assessing bank’s compliance with an enforcement action.

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