September 25, 2019 / 5:59 PM / 20 days ago

U.S. consumer watchdog hires new enforcement chief, fills other vacancies

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Wednesday announced new hires at the agency, including a former state regulator to serve as new permanent chief of its enforcement office.

Bryan Schneider, former head of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, will serve as the associate director of the agency’s Division of Supervision, Enforcement and Fair Lending.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Schneider has also previously been employed at pharmaceutical giant, the Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc, for nearly 15 years in various roles, including as vice president.

The consumer watchdog began looking to fill vacant roles in August, after a two-year hiring freeze and budget cuts by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump left the agency with several openings in senior positions.

Created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to crack down on predatory lenders, the CFPB is charged with protecting consumers and policing financial products.

Current CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger succeeded interim director and current White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who instituted the freeze and budget reductions. Kraninger was sworn in in December.

Republicans, who long argued the agency was too powerful, set about overhauling it after gaining control in November 2017, including rolling back rules and reducing enforcement actions.

Democratic lawmakers have accused the administration of bowing to industry lobbyists and warned efforts to shrink the agency could lead to a lack of industry oversight.

Overall, CFPB enforcement actions have fallen by around half under the Trump administration, a Reuters analysis found last month.

On Wednesday, other key roles, including the assistant director of research, the chief data officer and a deputy chief of staff were also named.

Reporting by Katanga Johnson, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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