(Adds details from White House statement, McWilliams background)
By Pete Schroeder
WASHINGTON, Nov 30 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump plans to nominate Jelena McWilliams, Fifth Third Bancorp's top attorney, to serve as the next head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the White House said on Thursday.
McWilliams has worked as the bank's chief legal officer since January, and if confirmed by the Senate, would take the helm of a key financial regulator that is still being run by an appointee of former President Barack Obama.
The White House said in a statement Trump will nominate her to serve as an FDIC board member for the remainder of a six-year term expiring July 15, 2019, and as chairperson for five years.
Martin Gruenberg, the current FDIC chairman who plans to serve in that role until his term expires this month, has resisted efforts from the Trump administration to significantly roll back rules on the financial sector. Trump has made trimming rules on Wall Street a top priority, arguing it is needed to boost economic growth.
Gruenberg, who has not said whether he will continue to serve as a board member until the end of his six-year term in December 2018, may continue to serve as chair until a successor is appointed.
The FDIC plays a key role in regulating banks nationwide, and also has a prominent voice in interagency matters like the "Volcker Rule," which bars proprietary trading by banks.
The Trump administration had to scramble to find an FDIC chief after its prior nominee, James Clinger, withdrew his name from consideration in July, citing family issues.
McWilliams also has a history in Congress, having served as a Senate staffer going back to 2010. She most recently served in the Senate as senior counsel to Republican Senator Richard Shelby, who at the time was the chairman of the Banking Committee.
McWilliams also spent three years as an attorney for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. (Reporting by Pete Schroeder; Writing by Eric Walsh; editing by Diane Craft)