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ICBA Encourages Congress to Quickly Pass Bank Regulatory Relief

Community Banks spend $200,000 and 2,000 Staff Hours Complying with SOX

Washington, D.C. (April 19, 2006)—The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) urges Congress to move quickly upon its return from Easter recess and pass much needed bank regulatory relief legislation, including provisions from the ICBA-initiated Communities First Act.

"While the federal government is making some improvements in relieving regulatory burden such as offering streamlined examinations for banks with less than $1 billion in assets, more must be done and quickly," said Terry J. Jorde, ICBA chairman, and president and CEO of CountryBank USA, Cando, N.D. "The Bank Secrecy Act, the Sarbanes Oxley Act (SOX), the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act and several others have increased the regulatory burden on community banks, detracting from our ability to devote time and resources to providing the financial services that our customers really need."

"The balance of complying with well-intended regulation versus providing meaningful benefit to consumers has tilted too far in one direction, overwhelming community banks," said Jorde. She noted that the typical community bank has to spend more than $200,000 and devote over 2,000 internal staff hours to comply with SOX Section 404 alone. "Changes in technology and industry practices happen so often that bank regulators and Congress need to adjust regulations and laws frequently," said Jorde. "We hope these adjustments will generally reduce the regulatory burden."

Jorde made her comments in response to written questions from Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee which is drafting regulatory relief legislation.

The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed the Financial Services Regulatory Relief Act of 2005 (H.R. 3505) that includes five provisions from the ICBA-backed Communities First Act (H.R. 2061). Those five provisions would streamline call reports, expand eligibility for the 18-month examination schedule for community banks up to $1 billion, allow short-form call reports in two of four quarters for certain community banks, expand eligibility for the small bank holding company policy statement, and grant an exception to the annual privacy notice requirement under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. The Communities First Act (S. 1568) has also been introduced in the Senate and ICBA is working to ensure sections of the legislation are included in any final regulatory relief legislation passed by the Senate.

For more information on the Communities First Act, visit www.icba.org.