The New York State Banking Department backed off plans Thursday to require independent audits of foreign bank branches and agencies every three years.

Releasing a new proposed rule for a 30-day comment period, the banking department also dropped plans to require independent auditors to attest that the foreign bank office has adequate internal controls.

"We strongly support the banking department's revised proposal and particularly welcome its decision to require external audits of branches and agencies only in remedial situations, rather than across the board," said Lawrence R. Uhlick, executive director of the Institute of International Bankers.

Today is Neil D. Levin's last day as New York's banking superintendent. On Monday, he becomes the state's acting superintendent of insurance. He'll get the job officially once his nomination is confirmed by the state Senate.

Elizabeth McCaul, first deputy superintendent, will lead the banking department until Gov. George Pataki appoints a successor.

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