WASHINGTON -- More than a year after the White House tried very publicly to remove him from office, L. William Seidman, the nation's senior bank regulator and a forcefully independent official, announced his resignation yesterday.
The departure of Mr. Seidman promises a dramatic change in the way Washington supervises the banking and savings and loan industries at a pivotal time.
In both style and substance, he has dominated the regulatory scene in recent years as a strong presence in Congress and with an alternately warm and cold and then warm again relationship with the administration since he was named chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in 1985.
The Bush administration has extensively relied upon his assessments of the health of the industry,his recommendations for healing the banks and the rapidly deteriorating bank insurance fund, and his skills to coax more money from Congress to rescue banks and savings associations.
For their part, the banks have found in him a powerful ally who early on rejected any efforts to roll back deposit insurance coverage.
In a four-sentence letter sent to President Bush yesterday, Mr. Seidman, 70, said that he would step down Oct. 16, at the end of his terms as chairman of both the FDIC, which oversees the nation's banks, and the Resolution Trust Corp., the agency created in 1989 to manage the savings and loan bailout.
His resignation, which had been expected for some time, lays to rest speculation that he might seek to stay longer. President Bush has not decided who will succeed Mr. Seidman, although officials said that William Taylor, the senior banking regulator at the Federal Reserve Board, was the leading candidate to head the FDIC.