WASHINGTON - Banks with satisfactory Community Reinvestment Act ratings should be shielded from community group protests, industry representatives said Thursday.

"The thing that gets so frustrating is that you get an examiner in ... then you get a rating, and the next day you get a protest," said James M. Culberson, chairman of First National Bank and Trust, Asheboro, N.C.

"What good does it do to get a good grade when a merger or acquisition application can be challenged and delayed anyway?" asked Mr. Culberson, president-elect of the American Bankers Association.

Mr. Culberson presented the industry's view on CRA during the second day of hearings before the House Banking financial institutions subcommittee. He was joined by bankers representing two other trade groups - the Independent Bankers Association of America and America's Community Banks.

Mergers or acquisitions are sometimes delayed for up to six months because of community group protests, Mr. Culberson said.

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