WASHINGTON - Foreign bank regulators will find it easier to go the Federal Reserve Board for help in combating crime.

The Fed, in a notice published in the Feb. 24 Federal Register, delegated to its general counsel the authority to collect, on behalf of foreign bank regulators, information on foreign banks suspected of violating the law.

Currently, the Fed's board of governors must approve all collaborative efforts.

"Any such investigation shall comply with the laws of the United States and the policies and procedures adopted by the board," the Fed said in its final rule, which takes effect immediately.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Act permits the central bank to aid foreign bank supervisors provided the foreign regulators give reciprocal assistance and the collaborative effort is in the United States' best interests.

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