The decades-long legal battle between the banking and insurance industries is about to heat up again. The spark this time comes from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's decision to let Magna Bank retain its insurance operations when it converted from a Missouri-chartered bank to a national bank.

The conversion prompted howls of protest from the insurance industry because the OCC said Magna could continue selling insurance from agencies located throughout the state, regardless of the size of the community. Though Missouri-chartered banks hold this power, national banks are restricted to selling insurance from places with fewer than 5,000 residents.

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