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OCC cracks open Volcker rule, seeks public comment

Joe Mont | August 2, 2017

The potential deconstruction of the Volcker rule is now in high gear.

Although any deliberations took place behind closed doors, the Financial Stability Oversight Committee placed debate about the rule, a Dodd-Franck Act ban on proprietary trading by federally insured banks, on its latest agenda. Now, with an even more substantial move, the acting Comptroller of the Currency is opening a public comment period that seeks proposed changes to the rule.

On August 2, the agency sent a notice for publication to the Federal Register that solicits public input on whether certain aspects of the implementing regulation should be revised to better accomplish the purposes of section 619 of the Dodd-Frank Act while “decreasing the compliance burden on banking entities and fostering economic growth.”

Specifically, the OCC invites input on ways to tailor the rule’s requirements and clarify key provisions that define prohibited and permissible activities. The agency also seeks input on how the federal regulatory agencies could implement the existing rule more effectively without revising the regulation.

The public is invited to provide supporting data that can inform specific changes to the regulation, and help assess the effectiveness of implementation efforts to date.

“The input received in response to this notice will further the dialogue on how to improve the regulation that was such a significant part of the U.S. Treasury’s June report on core principles for regulating the U.S. financial system,” acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika said in a statement. “This is one piece of a larger interagency effort to improve the rule.”

The OCC request is limited to regulatory actions that may be undertaken. It is not requesting comment on changes to the underlying Volcker statute. Any revisions to the final rule would need to be undertaken together with the other agencies.

Noreika said the OCC and other regulators may develop Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to amend the regulation.

“A bipartisan consensus has emerged that the Volcker Rule needs clarification and recalibration to eliminate burden on banks that do not engage in covered activities and do not present systemic risks,” he said. “Regulators do not have a monopoly on good ideas. Public input will help inform our path forward with the views, concerns, and data of those affected by this rule and provides for a more inclusive and transparent process.”

The OCC filing says identifies four broad areas for the public’s consideration: the scope of entities to which the final rule applies; the proprietary trading restrictions; the covered fund restrictions; and the compliance program and metrics reporting requirements. All aspects of the final rule and its administration will, however, be considered.

The OCC requests that respondents provide any comments within 45 days of publication in the Federal Register.