WASHINGTON - Rep. Marge Roukema, chairwoman of House Banking's financial institutions subcommittee, said she plans hearings next year on money laundering, a merger of the bank and thrift deposit insurance funds, regulatory relief, and consumer privacy.The New Jersey lawmaker announced this week that she and fellow Republican Bill McCollum of Florida will introduce legislation to crack down on money launderers; the announcement came after recent recommendations by the Clinton administration. Treasury Department officials unveiled a plan in November that, among other things, would make it a crime for U.S. banks or foreign banks with U.S. operations to knowingly handle money traceable to corruption or bribery in a foreign government.

She said she plans to offer legislation to merge the insurance funds because the thrift fund is relatively small and susceptible to regional economic disruptions. Her bill would also merge the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision. The subcommittee will also revisit regulatory relief legislation that would let banks pay interest on business checking accounts and earn interest on reserves held at the Federal Reserve.

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