Due to Securities and Exchange Commission questions about its accounting practices, SunTrust Banks Inc. has been forced to delay its merger with Crestar Financial Corp. of Richmond, Va., SunTrust said Tuesday.

SunTrust had planned to have shareholders of both companies vote on the deal Nov. 19. But the SEC has yet to approve the company's proxy, which was filed Aug. 13.

A SunTrust spokeswoman said the company remains in discussions with the SEC over the proxy and certain accounting issues. She would not be more specific, other than to say that the accounting questions did not involve Crestar, SunTrust's significant ownership of Coca-Cola Co. stock, or pooling of interests issues.

"Beyond that everything is confidential," said SunTrust spokeswoman Peggy Fisher.

Market observers speculated that the delay relates to a recently heightened awareness at the SEC involving certain accounting strategies used by some banks to meet earnings expectations.

- Carey Gillam

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