Exam Drag in Boston

Despite all the complaints about whip-cracking regulators, examiners are behind schedule on visiting some of New England's most troubled banks.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. examiners have been absent - improperly, in some cases -from 61 Boston-area banks for more than one year, according to data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

Eight of those banks bear sickly Camel ratings of 4 or 5; and 15 others have mediocre grades of 3. Camel is an acronym for capital, asset quality, management, earnings, and liquidity.

According to FDIC mandates, Camel 3,4, and 5 banks are to be examined once a year.

Audits are even rarer at strong institutions. It's been two to three years since the FDIC visited 26 New England banks with 1 or 2 ratings. A dozen others haven't seen an agency examiner for more than three years.

Will the government address its tardiness? Exam crews are being imported into the vulnerable New England region from other areas, says an official in the FDIC's supervision division. Of the 61 banks, he promises that 48 will be examined by yearend.

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