Gov. Luis Fortuño appointed former BBVA executive and banking industry veteran Rafael Blanco to head the Office of the Financial Institutions Commissioner, effective Jan. 1. Blanco will succeed Alfredo Padilla, who will retire after nine years at the agency known as OCIF.
The announcement came Tuesday, when Fortuño touted Blanco’s “broad experience in the financial sector, which will contribute to Puerto Rico’s economic growth.”
Prior to this appointment, Blanco worked as the Education Department’s deputy secretary for administration.
Blanco has nearly four decades of experience in banking earned from holding key positions in different institutions, including Banco Popular, Citibank, Banco Santander, the former Poncebank and, through 2009, as vice president at BBVA. He has also worked with the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, Puerto Rico Bar Association and the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York. Blanco also headed the Puerto Rico Bankers Association from 2007 to 2009.
Blanco has a degree in economics from Indiana’s Notre Dame University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Puerto Rico.
Fortuño, who submitted the appointment during the legislative recess, thanked Padilla — who was named to the position by former Gov. Sila Calderón and was kept on despite the political party change — for his work over the past nine years.
Another banking industry veteran, Padilla steered the island’s financial sector through what may possibly be one of its hardest chapters in history. In April 2010, the OCIF and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. spearheaded the closing of Westernbank, R-G Premier Bank and Eurobank, three failing banks whose assets were picked up by Banco Popular, Scotiabank and Oriental Bank.
In March, Padilla predicted that 2011 would be a “turnaround year” for the industry, which is indeed already showing signs of improvement.
“I appreciate that Alfredo decided to stay over the past three years of my administration, because he was instrumental in the historic bank mergers that occurred in the island last year,” Fortuño said. “My best wishes go out to him and we hope he enjoys his retirement.”
Attempts to reach Padilla were unsuccessful Tuesday.