December 11, 2018 / 10:17 PM / 4 months ago

New U.S. consumer watchdog chief echoes Mulvaney as she lays out her plans

WASHINGTON, Dec 11 (Reuters) - The new head of the U.S. consumer financial watchdog on Tuesday said she intended to continue some of the work begun by her predecessor Mick Mulvaney, including a review of decades-old rules preventing lending discrimination against minorities.

Industry and consumer groups are watching closely to see if Kathy Kraninger, who was sworn in as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) this week, will continue with Mulvaney’s work shelving rules and pulling back on enforcement.

On Tuesday, Kraninger echoed Mulvaney, the White House budget chief who ran the bureau on an interim basis for the past year, saying the CFPB had overstepped its mandate under the administration of former Democratic President Barack Obama and should stick to the letter of law.

“There is a responsibility here to make sure that the law is clearly articulated in the regulations and that is what the bureaus is enforcing,” Kraninger, who was previously a senior official at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), run by Mulvaney, told a news conference on her first day at the CFPB.

The CFPB was formed in the aftermath of the 2007-2009 financial crisis to protect ordinary Americans from predatory lending.

During his tenure, Mulvaney shelved some rules and said he planned to review others - including how the agency applies decades-old laws preventing discrimination against minorities when it enforces lending laws.

Kraninger said on Tuesday that a potential review of the way the agency enforces the Equal Credit Opportunity Act was still being discussed internally, although she declined to provide any details on how the agency may change its approach.

“I know there will be detailed conversations on that topic,” she added.

Kraninger also said she intends to continue Mulvaney’s efforts to review how the agency collects personal consumer data amid worries that information could be compromised.

“Data security and data privacy going to be a big focal point in terms of what the bureau collects, how it’s used, how long it’s stored, what information is appropriate to be shared among regulators,” Kraninger said.

She rebuffed concerns raised by consumer groups that she would allow Mulvaney, with whom she worked closely at the OMB, to continue to call the shots from the wings.

“I will be fully accountable for the decisions that I make going forward and they will be mine.” (Reporting by Katanga Johnson Writing by Patrick Rucker Editing by Michelle Price and Leslie Adler)

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