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US Senate sets November 10 for Basel hearings

WASHINGTON, November 4 (Global Risk Regulator) – Federal banking supervisors will next week update US senators on their plans for implementing the controversial Basel II international bank safety rules.

The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee has scheduled hearings on "the development of the new Basel Capital Accords" for November 10. A spokesman for the Committee said the hearings are part of the Senate’s continuing oversight of the Basel capital adequacy accord.

The session follows the end-September decision by the US federal banking supervisory agencies to postpone by a year to 2009 the adoption of the complex, risk-focused Basel II capital rules by a handful of the country’s largest banks. It also follows publication early last month of the agencies’ proposals for a more risk-sensitive version, dubbed Basel IA, of the current, and simpler, Basel I capital rules that date from 1988. Basel IA is intended to apply to the nearly 9,000 regional and community banks in the US that won’t be adopting the Basel II rules.

Scheduled to testify before the banking committee are: Comptroller of Currency John Dugan, Federal Reserve Board governor Susan Schmidt Bies, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation chairman Donald Powell and Office of Thrift Supervision director John Reich. Former regulators as well as academics and industry professionals will also testify.