|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:||CONTACT: CHRISTI HARLAN|
|Monday, May 10, 1999||202-224-0894|
In response to concerns raised by Senator Phil Gramm, chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, three federal banking regulators have said they will join the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and adopt policies to ensure that bank examinations are free from political issues or considerations.
"I am pleased at the responsiveness of our banking regulators," Gramm said. "The examination process can be trying enough for a banker without injecting the poison of political pressure. These new policies should help prevent abuses by making sure that both examiners and bankers are aware that exams should be above board."
The new policies are the result of Gramm's inquiries about OCC examiners who were seeking political statements from bankers about the Community Reinvestment Act. The OCC responded with a formal directive barring political communications.
Gramm subsequently asked the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Office of Thrift Supervision about their policies regarding political communications. OTS Director Ellen Seidman said she will issue guidance to OTS employees.
The Federal Reserve and FDIC informed Gramm that they have adopted policies policy similar to the OCC's, stating that "examiners should have no communications with insured institutions or their affiliates that indicate that the examination process is in any way influenced by political issues or considerations."