Federal regulators last week chose the first banks and thrifts to be reviewed under the revised community reinvestment rules, though several of the agencies failed to specify exact exam dates.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency will examine First National Bank of Slippery Rock, Pa..; First National Bank of Clinton, Mo.; First National Bank of Shelby, Neb., and Pacific National Bank of Miami, Fla., starting Jan. 2.

The revised Community Reinvestment Act rules apply Jan. 1 to banks with less than $250 million in assets. Larger institutions aren't covered until July 1997, although they can opt in early.

Marty Pressau, CRA officer at Slippery Rock, said his bank isn't nervous, even though examiners are expected in his office at 1 p.m. on Jan. 2.

"It will probably be a learning experience not only for us but for the examiners," he said, adding that he expects the exam to be less burdensome and time consuming.

Richard Chochon, president of First National Bank of Shelby, said examiners have contacted his bank several times to prepare them for the CRA review.

"They have been pretty open so far," Mr. Chochon said. "They haven't tried to hide anything. We have been pretty happy with them."

Community activists criticized the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Federal Reserve Board, and the Office of Thrift Supervision for not providing exact exam dates. They said this will make it harder to submit comments that could be incorporated into CRA evaluations.

Instead, the agencies published a list of all banks and thrifts to be examined during the first quarter.

"That has to be fixed immediately," said John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. "It has always been very clear that the date of the exam was going to be made public at least 30 days before."

OTS spokesman Bill Fulwider said the current format is not set in stone. "We will look at reasonable suggestions," he said, adding that any changes likely would be done on an interagency basis.

Mr. Taylor said the public deserves exact exam dates. It shouldn't have to figure out when the 30-day clock begins ticking, he said.

"People have to know really how much time they have," Mr. Taylor said. "If the quarter begins Jan. 1 but the exam doesn't happen until March 26, you really don't know how much time you have."

Mr. Taylor said he fears this foreshadows future trouble with the new rules, which are supposed to focus on performance over paperwork.

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.