Top U.S. bank regulator told to recuse himself from CIT Group matters

WASHINGTON, March 7 (Reuters) - A top U.S. bank regulator, Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, must recuse himself from matters involving CIT Group Inc and other lenders with which he has had past financial ties, the agency’s acting chief counsel said this week.

Otting in January sold shares in companies he might regulate as head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which is the top regulator for national banks.

That move allowed Otting, who was sworn in in November, to assume most of his roles as comptroller but the top lawyer for the OCC this week asked Otting to stand aside in matters involving a handful of banks.

Besides CIT Group, the other lenders cited in the counsel’s memo on Tuesday are Lexington, Kentucky-based Central Bank, UBS Bank USA, the employee pension division of MUFG Union Bank, N.A. and the employee pension division of U.S. Bank, N.A.

Otting once led CIT Group and OCC rules expect him to recuse himself from matters involving that bank for the time being, the OCC has said.

UBS Bank financed Otting’s mortgage. He and his wife still have benefits from their former employers: U.S. Bank and Union Bank, according to the OCC and investment filings.

The recusal memo from OCC acting Chief Counsel Karen Solomon was dated Tuesday but released on Wednesday. (Reporting by Patrick Rucker Editing by Peter Szekely and Frances Kerry)