The Federal Reserve Board and the Treasury Department will postpone new record-keeping rules for wire transfers until May 28, the second delay since regulators approved the changes in January 1995.
Two government officials, who requested anonymity, said the Fed and the Treasury Department have been unable to resolve differences between their versions of the rules, which will require financial institutions to retain information on most wire transfers for five years.
"We had hoped to have these amendments out several months ago, and give bankers plenty of time to comply," a Fed source said. "However, the process of joint rulemaking with Treasury has been a little more difficult than we expected."
The rules will require banks to keep records on the amount and date of a transfer, the name and address of both the sender and recipient, and the name of the bank that originated the transaction. The purpose is to create a paper trail so law enforcement officials can track suspicious activities.
Transactions between two domestic banks, or between a bank and a government agency, are exempt.
James Brankin, vice president with First Chicago NBD Corp., said bankers want sensible rules, regardless of how long they take to draft.
"The responsibility to avoid money launderers is very important to us," Mr. Brankin said. "But it is difficult to craft regulations that will be effective."
The agencies first delayed the wire transfer rules in August to let the Fed and Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network rewrite the regulation to conform with the Uniform Commercial Code.
"This is one of the longest-running, would-be regulations ever considered by the federal government," said Charles A. Intriago, publisher of the newsletter Money Laundering Alert. "It's the old stop-and-start rule."