WASHINGTON -- Starting in April, national banks issuing stock or bonds will find the rules simplified. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on Wednesday issued a new final rule that conforms the agency's requirements for banks selling their debt and equity securities with those of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Most banks, through their holding companies, are already familiar with SEC rules. Having separate OCC rules means national banks must be sure to comply with a different set of rules, said Sarrah A. Miller, senior government relaitons counsel at the American Bankers Association.

"This change will reduce regulatory burden and save banks money," said Comptroller of the Currency Eugene A. Ludwig. Last year. 100 national banks filed such securities paperwork. the OCC said. The new role takes effect April 3.

Bankers praised the move,

"Streamlining like this ... and coordination with other agencles is the kind of regulatory burden reduction that all the agencles should be doing," said Diane Casey, executive director of the Independent Bankers Association of America. "The bankers like this."

An OCC spokesman insisted the adoption of the SEC's rules is not a move toward functional regulation. in which securities laws for all companies would be enforced by securities regulators Bank regulators now administer the securities rules banks follow.

Under the new rules, "The OCC will still be doing the review." spokesman Dean DeBuck said. "We're still the regulator, and we're just simplifying the forms and the regulations."

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