May 11, 2017 / 8:07 PM / in 3 months

White House weeks away from naming anyone to Fed: official

A police officer keeps watch in front of the U.S. Federal Reserve building in Washington, DC, U.S. on October 12, 2016.Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

(Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump is weeks away from naming anyone to the board of the Federal Reserve, a White House official said, meaning it could be the fall before three currently empty seats are filled.

The vacancies on the Fed's seven member Board of Governors include the position of vice chair in charge of banking oversight, a critical role in Trump's plan to revamp financial rules.

The White House wants to get all nominees vetted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of Government Ethics before they name them publicly and that process can take months, according to people familiar with the matter.

If the vetting drags on, it runs the risk of delaying those people from taking their jobs until sometime this fall, complicating Trump's plan to reshape regulation of Wall Street.

The Fed positions require confirmation by the Senate and could be delayed further by a five-week congressional recess from the end of July to the beginning of September.

Randal Quarles, a veteran of the George W. Bush administration, is expected to be Trump's pick for the Fed's top bank regulator, Reuters has previously reported. Trump met him late last month, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Quarles, who worked as a partner at private equity firm the Carlyle Group, currently runs a private investment firm, the Cynosure Group, from Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served in the Treasury Department under Bush and was the U.S. executive director of the International Monetary Fund.

Quarles did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday. A spokesman for the Federal Reserve declined to comment.

The vice chair for supervision and regulation and another seat that governs community banking were created as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law but were never filled by President Barack Obama. Former Fed governor Daniel Tarullo had stepped in to fill the supervision void before leaving the central bank in April.

The White House would like to name all three regulatory positions at the Fed at the same time, according to people familiar with the matter. But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin dismissed that idea publicly last month, saying, “I don’t think we’re going to do that.”

In addition to the three current vacancies, one of which must be filled by someone with community banking experience, Chair Janet Yellen and Stanley Fischer, the vice chairman, could step down when their terms expire next year.

Trump could therefore fill as many as five of the board’s seven seats within the next year, giving him the opportunity to nominate a block of people who will have a big say in the direction of interest rates.

Additional reporting by Pete Schroeder; Editing by Carmel Crimmins and Chris Reese

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