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ICBA's Immediate Past Chairman Speaks Out on CRA

Washington, D.C. (Dec. 22, 2004) - Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) Immediate Past Chairman C.R. "Rusty" Cloutier, president and CEO of MidSouth Bank, N.A., in Lafayette, La., appeared on the Public Broadcasting Service news show "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" to speak out about proposed changes to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).

The segment discussed the effect CRA has had on rural communities since 1977, and what regulatory changes proposed by the FDIC would mean for community banks and those they serve. The FDIC proposal, supported by ICBA, would allow more community banks to focus resources locally by undergoing streamlined exams that establish more flexible investment options under CRA. Organizations that find CRA-related investment opportunities for banks, often hundreds of miles away from the banks' communities, oppose the FDIC's proposal.

Cloutier said that community activists are barking up the wrong tree, spending all their time on community banks when, "the 10 largest banks in America control 77 percent of the deposits. That's where the money is."

"The fact is, I do serve my community," Cloutier continued. "We would do that if we had a CRA or not because there are just things that are right to do, and improve the community and make it a better place to live." The FDIC's proposed regulatory changes are designed to help more community banks like MidSouth Bank direct their financial resources to low- and moderate-income neighborhoods in the communities they serve. Currently, the regulations are forcing many community banks to invest in projects far away from the communities they serve.

"We're glad to be involved in investing in our communities," said Cloutier, "but to hold us to an investment test in buying investments in other parts of the country just doesn't make a lot of sense."

More information on CRA and ICBA's document "The Truth about CRA," outlining the facts regarding the change to the CRA asset-size limits, is available at www.icba.org/advocacy/index.cfm?ItemNumber=1775.