WASHINGTON - Comptroller of the Currency John D. Hawke Jr. on Sunday denied accusations by House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach that his agency is violating the law by allowing national banks to hold commercial stock for hedging equity derivative swaps.

"This is not a first step toward breaching the wall between banking and commerce. It's got nothing to do with that," Mr. Hawke told reporters at the American Bankers Association's annual convention, his first remarks about the matter since Rep. Leach, R-Iowa, blasted the agency this month.

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