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U.S. housing regulator says former chief DeMarco to leave in April

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[March 25, 2014]  By Margaret Chadbourn

WASHINGTON (Reuters)  Edward DeMarco, former acting director of the housing regulator that oversees Fannie Mae <FNMA.OB> and Freddie Mac <FMCC.OB>, said on Monday he would leave the agency at the end of April.

DeMarco led the Federal Housing Finance Agency in an acting capacity from 2009 until January, when Mel Watt, an Obama administration appointee and former North Carolina congressman, was sworn in as director.

DeMarco had often been criticized by housing advocates and Democratic lawmakers for refusing to let Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac cut debt for borrowers whose mortgages exceeded the value of their homes. Simultaneously, he earned praise from Republican lawmakers for improving the bottom line at the two government-controlled companies.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two leading sources of U.S. mortgage funds, were seized by the government during the financial crisis in 2008 and propped up with $187.5 billion in taxpayer funds. They have since returned to profitability and by the end of March will have sent the Treasury $202.9 billion in dividends.

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"Ed has been an invaluable asset to FHFA and I appreciate his assistance to me during this transitional period," Watt said in a statement. "Throughout his 28-year career as a public servant, he has made many important public policy contributions grounded in his strong background in housing finance."

DeMarco, a career government employee, has yet to announce his future plans.

(Reporting by Margaret Chadbourn; editing by Bernadette Baum)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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