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Treasury names John Walsh acting head of OCC

By Karey Wutkowski

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - John Walsh, chief of staff at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, will become the acting head of the agency, which supervises the largest U.S. banks.

Walsh was closely involved in all aspects of the OCC during the financial crisis, when bank regulators were instrumental in crafting rescue programs and shoring up the dismal confidence in the U.S. financial system.

He will step into his new position when Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan leaves office on August 14 near the end of his five-year term, the U.S. Treasury Department said on Friday.

Walsh is seen as an interim appointment until the Obama administration names a permanent head to the agency.

The OCC, like other U.S. financial regulators, faces the daunting task of crafting dozens of new rules to carry out the massive financial reform legislation that President Barack Obama signed into law earlier this week.

Walsh will take on the initial steps, including the process of the OCC absorbing the Office of Thrift Supervision, a regulator that largely oversees mortgage lenders and one whose reputation was severely damaged during the subprime mortgage crisis.

"We have many challenges ahead of us, including implementation of the financial reform law and completion of the Basel III capital process, and so I'm grateful I can rely on the highly professional and talented staff of the OCC," Walsh said in a statement.

Walsh's international experience will likely be an asset as he helps global regulators hammer out new capital rules for banks, known as Basel III.

Before becoming the OCC's chief of staff in 2005, he was executive director of the Group of 30, a consultative group that focuses on international economic and monetary affairs.

The Group of 30 was closely associated with Paul Volcker, former head of the Federal Reserve and now White House economic adviser.

He also serves as treasurer of the Baraka School, an international educational program designed to connect students in Kenya to American inner-city youth. The school was featured in the 2005 documentary "The Boys of Baraka."

(Reporting by Karey Wutkowski; editing by John Wallace and Gerald E. McCormick)