WASHINGTON -- The Consumer Federation of America has accused First Union Corp. of attempting an end run around District of Columbia banking laws.

In a letter to Comptroller of the Currency Eugene A. Ludwig, the federation protested First Union's planned merger of two organization it has acquired in the Washington are - First American Metro Corp. and the former Dominion Bank of Washington.

Issue of Jurisdiction

The consumer group said First Union wanted to structure the deal as a national bank merger, putting it under the Comptroller's jurisdiction rather than that of the Washington banking superintendent.

The district's interstate banking law "requires banking entities coming into the jurisdiction to file an application and to submit a plan for lending and investment in the district," wrote Chris Lewis, the Consumer Federation's banking lobbyist.

"We think this up-front review is an important pro-consumer requirement that ensures that these interstate acquisitions and mergers will not simply drain a local community of funds and investment opportunities," he added in his letter to Mr. Ludwig.

$90 Million Pledge

Jeep Bryant, a spokesman for First Union, said the Charlotte, N.C.-based holding company "tried to act as if our application were before the district."

In addition to meeting with consumer groups and banking regulators, he said, First Union is pledging $90 million over the next 10 years for community investment - double the commitment it made when it recently bought Dominion Bankshares Corp. of Roanoke, Va.

Mr. Bryant said the Washington acquisition has been approved by both the Federal Reserve and the comptroller's office, and that it should be completed by the end of this month.

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