Beset by critics lately, Comptroller of the Currency John D. Hawke Jr. has lashed back at one with a loud and familiar bark.

Mr. Hawke's retort targeted banking consultant and regulatory gadfly Bert Ely, who had berated the Comptroller's office for its supervision of First National Bank of Keystone (W.Va.), which failed Sept. 1 amid charges of fraud. "I think there's some very serious regulatory negligence here," Mr. Ely said Sept. 2. "I have a feeling that the uninsured depositors have a basis for a lawsuit against the government."

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