|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:||CONTACT: CHRISTI HARLAN|
|Monday, February 8, 1999||202-224-0894|
Senator Phil Gramm, chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, has provided two major banking groups with copies of a memorandum in which Comptroller John D. Hawke Jr. instructs his examination staff to avoid "improper" communications with banks about the Community Reinvestment Act.
"I believe that banks should be aware that they have no duty to respond to improper requests for favorable statements about the CRA," Gramm said in a letter to the presidents of the American Bankers Association and the Independent Bankers Association of America.
"Mr. Hawke made this clear in his memo to the OCC staff, and I am making it clear to the banks," Gramm said. "Political concerns have no place in the examination process, and bankers should be encouraged to resist — and report — any political pressure they feel."
In his memorandum, Mr. Hawke acknowledged that OCC policy staff had initiated a program that "resulted in the examination staff improperly being involved" in an effort to collect positive statements about the CRA. Mr. Hawke said "it is imperative" that the examination process not be "colored by political considerations."
"I appreciate Mr. Hawke's quick response to this problem," Gramm said. "I trust he will be diligent in ensuring that doesn't happen again."