WASHINGTON -- The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision plan to investigate whether unfair judgments by examiners are prolonging the credit crunch.

The agencies, both parts of the Treasury Department, will sponsor six or so joint hearings before yearend in major cities. Borrowers and bankers will be invited to testify about harsh examinations.

Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady requested the hearings in a Sept. 1 memo to the agencies. He asked for special attention to commercial mortgages; acquisition, development, and construction financing, and small-business lending.

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