WASHINGTON — Top government officials dealing with the savings and loan crisis said Wednesday that they are launching a nationwide search for a new chief executive officer from private industry to head the Resolution Trust Corp.
The RTC's oversight board, made up of top Bush Administration officials and leading independent regulators, said the official will be given much broader powers than the agency's current executive director.
David Cooke, the RTC's executive director, is a career banking regulator from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the independent regulatory agency that effectively manages the RTC, the 2-year-old agency charged with cleaning up the S&L mess.
He said in an interview last week that he has no interest in the new position and that he plans to leave the RTC after a transition period when the new executive is named.
Officials said Wednesday that one of the leading candidates to become the new thrift czar is Gerald Greenwald, a former top executive of Chrysler Corp. who until last year was Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca's heir apparent. But Greenwald left Chrysler to lead the unsuccessful labor union buyout of United Airlines. He could not be reached for comment.
L. William Seidman, chairman of the FDIC and the RTC and a member of the agency's oversight board who will be involved in the search, acknowledged Wednesday that he has met with Greenwald to discuss a position at the RTC. But Seidman stressed that he did not directly discuss the chief executive job with Greenwald, and he said he has not met with anyone else who might be considered for the post.
But Seidman and other officials acknowledged that it may be difficult to persuade a top-notch executive to take a job overseeing the cleanup of one of the biggest scandals in recent American history. Seidman joked Wednesday that the job would likely attract "somebody who likes to get their name in the paper, even if it is to take abuse."
The search is also being launched before the FDIC and the Bush Administration's Treasury Department have announced just how the new position should be fashioned or how the RTC itself should be restructured to accommodate a stronger leader. And, while Seidman and Treasury officials insist that the chief executive position can be created without the approval of Congress, congressional leaders on thrift and banking issues are already pushing their own legislative proposals for overhauling the RTC.