Comptroller of the Currency Robert L. Clarke, one of the nation's top banking regulators, said Friday he has decided to put his financial holdings in a blind trust.
"I regret that any of my financial transactions or holdings have inadvertently contributed to a public perception of conflict of interest," Clarke said in a statement issued by his office.Clarke supervises the 4,000-odd banks with federal charters, has managed his own portfolio, acquired when he was a Texas banking lawyer.
In the past four years, he has engaged in more than 100 securities transactions, among them $1.7 million in junk bonds.
Clarke is a board member of the Resolution Trust Co., the savings and loan bailout agency that has become the nation's biggest holder of junk bonds through taking over the assets of failed S&Ls.
He has insisted that he has abstained from decisions affecting his holdings and that his actions were cleared by government ethics lawyers. Officials of the bailout agency have said he got no special information about any junk bonds.
But disclosure last month of his transactions prompted criticism in Congress that banking regulation should be a full-time job.
Blind trusts are managed by a trustee who is barred from telling the beneficiary what he is doing with assets entrusted to him.