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Woman Who Helped Expose Wall Street Mega Banks’ Vast Holdings of Physical Commodities Is Nominated as a Top Bank Regulator

Courtesy of Pam Martens

Cornell Law Professor Saule Omarova, Testifying at a House Hearing on Affordable Housing on April 14, 2021

Cornell Law Professor Saule Omarova, Testifying at a House Hearing on April 14, 2021

Yesterday, President Biden took the bold step of nominating Saule Omarova to head the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), a top federal bank regulator. Omarova is a Law Professor at Cornell and has written extensively on systemic risk containment. Prior to joining Cornell in 2014, Omarova was Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law. Prior to her academic career, Omarova worked for the corporate law firm, Davis Polk & Wardwell, in their Financial Institutions Group. In 2006-2007, she served at the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a Special Advisor for Regulatory Policy to the Under Secretary for Domestic Finance.

Omarova represents a triple threat to the insidious behavior of mega banks on Wall Street: she has an in-depth knowledge of how they operate; she is not timid about explaining it to investigative bodies in the U.S. Senate; and, as head of the OCC, she would have a bully pulpit to speak to the American people directly about the urgency of reining in the systemic risks on Wall Street.

Omarova has already demonstrated to Wall Street that it should not underestimate her. In 2013 and 2014, the U.S. Senate took testimony from witnesses on the matter of the mega banks on Wall Street quietly buying up unprecedented amounts of physical commodities and then trading on their inside information of those markets. Witnesses pointed to the Federal Reserve as aiding and abetting these egregious manipulations by its rewriting the rules governing such ownership interests.

One of the key witnesses that testified against these abuses was Omarova, then an Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law.

On July 23, 2013 the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection, chaired by Senator Sherrod Brown, held a hearing titled: “Examining Financial Holding Companies: Should Banks Control Power Plants, Warehouses, and Oil Refineries?”



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