WASHINGTON - The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has been quietly warning trade groups that it could start charging banks premiums again by yearend - in part because of fast-growing accounts at large firms such as Merrill Lynch & Co., industry sources said Wednesday.

Those sources said that FDIC officials have told them the ratio of federal reserves to insured deposits in the Bank Insurance Fund could fall below the statutory minimum of 1.25%, which by law could force banks to pay more than $1 billion of premiums - the first such payments in nearly five years.

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