U.S., Canadian, and Australian banks publish the most useful annual reports, while German, Dutch, Italian, Belgian, and Asian banks offer the most inscrutable yearly business reviews, according a survey by a London-based business research company.

The survey, sponsored by Lafferty Publications Ltd., ranked Citicorp and Chase Manhattan Corp. as among the eight international banks to which it assigned a grade of A for quality.

Most other U.S. bank reports received B's, but Bank of New York received a C.

Personnel a Weak Spot

"While U.S. bank annual reports are particularly strong in the area of their financial statements, they are world laggards when it comes to employment and personnel information," the report said.

Among the other key findings about U.S. banks:

* Most disclose the principal occupation of their directors but do not provide information on their experience and qualifications.

* Most disclose the principal occupation of their directors but do not provide information on their experience and qualifications.

* Only about half disclose the extent of their involvement in trust and fiduciary services.

* They do not quantify financial performance targets, nor do they disclose employment objectives.

Some Key Problems

In more general findings, the survey reported that many banks do not comply with international accounting standards, about 20% inadequately disclose their accounting policies or do not disclose at all, and many use hidden reserves or excess general provisions to conceal their real results.

No fewer than eight of 10 big German banks received D's for their reports, including Deutsche Bank, Germany's biggest.

The study, by Lafferty and KPMG Stokes Kennedy Crowley, based in Dublin, Ireland, ranked the annual reports of the world's top 100 banks according to qualify of information they provided, using international accounting standards.

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