As the Treasury Department scrambles to fill a vacancy at the Office of Thrift Supervision created by the departure of acting Director Jonathan L. Fiechter, industry sources are speculating about likely candidates.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Vice Chairman Andrew C. "Skip" Hove and FDIC Director Joseph Neely are mentioned most frequently. Both have experience running agencies: Mr. Hove was acting FDIC chairman, and Mr. Neely ran the banking commission in Mississippi. More importantly, both have been through the Senate confirmation process, which makes it easier for Treasury to place them at the agency. But both men are Republicans, and the White House would prefer to appoint a Democrat.

Richard S. Carnell, assistant Treasury secretary for financial institutions, belongs to the right party. And he went through the confirmation process three years ago when he joined Treasury.

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The Texas-Mexico border is the favored route for laundering drug money out of the United States, and Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez is furious that federal officials haven't done more to stop the illegal cash flow through his home state.

In an Aug. 6 letter to Stanley Morris, director of the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the Texas lawmaker complained that the agency hasn't drafted regulations that would require U.S. financial institutions to report deposits of foreign bank cashier checks of $10,000 or more. "As a result, foreign bank drafts remain a tool at the disposal of money launderers," Rep. Gonzalez wrote.

His complaints were echoed by Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., chairman of House Banking's general oversight and investigations subcommittee, at a Sept. 5 hearing on money laundering.

"Fincen was charged in 1994 with the job of plugging that loophole. That effort is long, long overdue," said Rep. Bachus.

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