US banks strive to change Basel II rules

12 January 2007

Four major US banks are reported to be deeply unhappy with new Basel II regulations and have voiced their concerns to the White House, according to reports.

Citigroup, JP Morgan, Wachovia and Washington Mutual have met with the White House to protest against the new international capital standards to be implemented in one year's time, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Arguing that the new standards are not in line with the capital requirements that foreign banks will use under Basel II, Citigroup and others believe the new regulations could disadvantage US financial lenders competitively.

The recent meeting represents a final attempt by the banks to make substantial changes to the Basel II capital proposals before they come into effect next year.

Tony Fratto, White House spokesman, told the Wall Street Journal that the banks had met with staff from the National Economic Council but that the White House itself would not be directly involved.

"We have an interest in it, obviously, but the Fed and the Treasury have been taking the lead," he said.

The Basel II standards, when introduced, will only apply to a handful of the largest US lenders, with fewer than 20 of the biggest banks expected to use the rules.

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