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Curry Addresses Concerns of Minority-Owned Banks in Speech

In a written speech addressing Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Thomas J. Curry, Comptroller of the Currency, spoke on the important role of minority-owned banks while addressing concerns regarding new laws and regulations.

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The speech was presented before the National Bankers Association at an annual convention. In the speech, Curry acknowledged that smaller financial institutions don't have the ""small army of lawyers and compliance experts"" that larger institutions are equipped with, but offered assurance that the OCC is ""very sensitive to the needs of community institutions"" and said they ""will do everything possible to make the workload manageable for small institutions.""

Curry also discussed the new Basel capital requirements, which are expected to pose challenges for community banks due to the higher capital requirements.

Basel III requires banks to raise the common equity Tier 1 capital ratio to 6 percent. In addition, the proposal ""would revise the risk weights for residential mortgages and increase capital requirements for certain commercial real estate loans, past-due loans and short-term commitments.""

Curry responded to the concerns by stating, ""We have spent a good deal of time analyzing the impact, and we believe that most of the community institutions we supervise already have enough common equity to meet the new tests.""

Curry also gave mention to the development of an ""estimator tool"":http://www.occ.gov/topics/capital-policy/bank-estimation-tool.xlsm. to help community banks and thrifts determine their capital requirements under the proposed rule.

To address the unique position of MDIs, Curry said a Minority Depository Institutions Advisory Committee is in the works and almost finished.

The initiative will gather representatives from minority-owned banks and thrifts with senior OCC leaders to discuss issues minority-owned institutions face.

Curry also offered assurance that community banks shouldn't worry about retaliation when appealing an examiner's decision, and described OCC Ombudsman, Larry Hattix, as being ""truly independent.""

Curry provided 2011 statistics, stating 25 percent of the cases decided by the Ombudsman were in favor of the bank, and 75 percent were in favor of the examiner.

About Author: Esther Cho

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