OCC Requests Comment on Volcker Rule Improvements

The OCC today issued a request for comment on revisions to the Volcker Rule, which prohibits all banks — regardless of size or risk — from engaging in any activities that might be characterized as “proprietary trading” or “covered fund investments.” The agency is seeking feedback that could support changes to these prohibitions and to the rule’s compliance and reporting requirements. Comments will be due 45 days after the notice is published in the Federal Register.

“A bipartisan consensus has emerged that the Volcker Rule needs clarification and recalibration to eliminate burden on banks that do not engage in covered activities and do not present systemic risk,” said Acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika, noting that the request for information is part of an ongoing interagency effort to improve the rule’s implementing regulations.

The American Bankers Association has been vocal in its opposition to the Volcker Rule and has long sought changes to it. In a recent white paper to the U.S. Treasury Department — which was referenced heavily in the OCC’s request for information — the association called for a full repeal of the rule, and in the meantime, for substantial regulatory revisions that focus on prohibited activities and that redefine key terms. ABA noted that the Volcker Rule has been “a drag on the economy,” and has imposed a significant cost and compliance burden on banks of all sizes.

“At the end of the day, we all seek an implementation program that is clear and promotes financial stability and economic growth,” said ABA President and CEO Rob Nichols. “We appreciate that the OCC statement references several of ABA’s past comments regarding the Volcker Rule, and we intend to be active participants in the public reform discussion.”

Reform of the Volcker Rule was also a key focal point of the recent Treasury report on financial regulation, which supported an exemption from the rule for banks under $10 billion. Read the OCC’s request for information. For more information, contact ABA’s Tim Keehan.

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