The Independent Insurance Agents of America joined forces with Consumers Union last week to push for new restrictions on bank insurance sales.

With the House Banking Committee scheduled to vote Tuesday on financial reform, Robert A. Rusbuldt , a lobbyist for the group, urged lawmakers to reject a Treasury Department proposal that gives the Comptroller of the Currency broad authority to preempt state rules.

"Treasury's proposal is a disaster for consumers," Mr. Rusbuldt said. "We don't believe unelected regulators in Washington should have the power to blow away state laws."

He released a survey by the group showing that consumers are worried about abusive sales practices by banks: 59% of those questioned said buying insurance from a bank would improve the chances of getting a loan and 55% believed banks would violate their privacy by using personal financial information to market products.

Consumers Union insurance counsel Mary Griffin said consumers will be "easy prey" if bank regulators are allowed to preempt state protections.

American Bankers Association chief lobbyist Edward L. Yingling dismissed the survey, which he said was "skewed to reinforce the agents' legislative agenda-to stifle competition by banks in the sale of insurance."

Current regulations already prevent banks from tying loans to other products and misusing financial data, he said.

Richard D. Starr, chairman of the Financial Institutions Insurance Association, plans to respond to the agents' survey on Wednesday.

Charles O. Zuver, the top lobbyist at the Credit Union National Association, is retiring at yearend.

Mr. Zuver, who turns 65 in October, will serve as a consultant to the trade group until the end of the current session of Congress in 1998.

"His experience, knowledge and steady hand on a day-to-day basis will be sorely missed," said CUNA president Daniel A. Mica, who has not yet named Mr. Zuver's successor.

Mr. Zuver logged 10 years with CUNA after 18 years lobbying for the ABA.

President Clinton nominated Bill Lann Lee, head of the Los Angeles branch of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, as the next assistant attorney general for civil rights. Mr. Lee, 48, would be the first Asian- American to hold the post, which oversees all fair-lending enforcement. The appointment requires Senate confirmation.

John K. Hardage has joined the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency as deputy director of the congressional liaison division, a new position. Mr. Hardage, formerly deputy director of congressional affairs for the Federal Housing Finance Board, reports to Carolyn McFarlane, the agency's lead lobbyist.

For Joseph H. Neely, banking success used to depend upon the character of borrowers, the capacity of the institution to make loans, the collateral available, and the creditworthiness of customers. His "four C's" changed in 1992 to compliance, character loans, Community Reinvestment Act, and Clinton.

Last week, at the American Bankers Association's annual compliance conference, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. director unveiled his latest version of the four C's. They are: charters, consolidation, credit unions, and compromise on credit quality.

Also at the conference, ABA bestowed its 1997 Distinguished Service Award on Margaret P. Causby, executive vice president of Old Point National Bank in Hampton, Va.

"Outstanding leadership, initiative, and accomplishment in banking's regulatory compliance management profession" is what nabbed the honor for Ms. Causby, ABA said. Ms. Causby began her banking career in 1979 as an Old Point bookkeeper.

The FDIC has named Robert E. Feldman as executive secretary, replacing Jerry Langley, who retired after 22 years as the agency's recordkeeper and historian.

Mr. Feldman had been deputy executive secretary since May 1988. The Rhode Island native joined the FDIC in 1980 as a part-time legal clerk while attending law school at American University.

The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council appointed two state banking commissioners to its five-member state liaison committee last week.

Bill C. Houston, Tennessee's commissioner of financial institutions, replaces Neil Levin, who resigned as New York's banking superintendent to become the state's insurance commissioner.

James L. Pledger, the Savings and Loan Commissioner in Texas, replaces Jack Schaffer, Illinois commissioner of savings and residential finance, whose term on the committee expired April 30.

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