A federal appeals court in Atlanta has upheld a 1995 decision allowing state insurance commissioners to regulate the so-called Retirement CD.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit also ruled that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency improperly allowed Browning, Mont.-based Blackfeet National Bank and other banks to underwrite the annuity-like product. "The comptroller's interpretation of the (National) Bank Act is an unreasonable expansion of the powers of national banks beyond those intended by Congress," the court wrote.

The court, in a April 5 decision, said Florida's insurance commissioner was within his rights in 1994 when he attempted to regulate the Retirement CDs.

Gary Hughes, general counsel at the American Council of Life Insurance, called the ruling "significant" and said it raised larger questions about whether banks and their affiliates may underwrite annuities.

But Michael F. Crotty, deputy general counsel at the American Bankers Association, criticized the decision. "Historically, the comptroller getsdeference to his interpretations of the National Bank Act if there's any ambiguity in the law," he said. "It's a real stretch to say, 'The comptroller doesn't understand the National Bank Act.'"

Blackfeet may request a rehearing or appeal to the Supreme Court.

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