WASHINGTON — The Independent Community Bankers of America has formed a task force to study whether companies should be allowed to belong to more than one Federal Home Loan bank using a single charter.

The ICBA’s vice chairman, Rusty Cloutier, will head the task force. Mr. Cloutier is also president of Midsouth National Bank in Lafayette, La. The group held a conference call Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m very happy to be involved as a community banker making sure the Federal Home Loan Bank System is very stable for years to come and that it serves the needs” of community bankers,” Mr. Cloutier said.

The Federal Housing Finance Board is drafting an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on multiple memberships. The board’s decision will affect community banks, which increasingly depend on Home Loan bank advances to fund their operations.

“There is no easy answer to the question of whether a financial institution can belong to more than one” Home Loan bank using a single charter, said ICBA chairman Bob Gulledge, a member of the task force, in a prepared statement. Some Home Loan banks and their members stand to win under such an arrangement, and some stand to lose, Mr. Gulledge said.

At the government affairs conference of America’s Community Bankers on Tuesday, the Finance Board’s chairman, Allan I. Mendelowitz, responded to audience questions about the pending applications by one of Washington Mutual Inc.’s thrifts and by FleetBoston Financial Corp., each seeking membership in more than one Home Loan bank through a single charter.

Mr. Mendelowitz said that he was “elated” to see the applications, because examining the question of multiple memberships “will be stimulating.”

The question raises serious concerns and has many implications for the system, he said. “What I do know is that it should not be resolved on a case-by-case basis … and we plan to address it as kind of a generic situation.”

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.