12 CFR 211.24 - Approval of offices of foreign banks; procedures for applications; standards for approval; representative office activities and standards for approval; preservation of existing authority.
(a) Board approval of offices of foreign banks -
(1) Prior Board approval of branches, agencies, commercial lending companies, or representative offices of foreign banks.
(i) Except as otherwise provided in paragraphs (a)(2) and (a)(3) of this section, a foreign bank shall obtain the approval of the Board before it:
(A) Establishes a branch, agency, commercial lending company subsidiary, or representative office in the United States; or
(B) Acquires ownership or control of a commercial lending company subsidiary.
(2) Prior notice for certain offices.
(i) After providing 45 days' prior written notice to the Board, a foreign bank may establish:
(A) An additional office (other than a domestic branch outside the home state of the foreign bank established pursuant to section 5(a)(3) of the IBA (12 U.S.C. 3103(a)(3))), provided that the Board has previously determined the foreign bank to be subject to comprehensive supervision or regulation on a consolidated basis by its home country supervisor (comprehensive consolidated supervision or CCS); or
(B) A representative office, if:
(1) The Board has not yet determined the foreign bank to be subject to consolidated comprehensive supervision, but the foreign bank is subject to the BHC Act, either directly or through section 8(a) of the IBA (12 U.S.C. 3106(a)); or
(2) The Board previously has approved an application by the foreign bank to establish a branch or agency pursuant to the standard set forth in paragraph (c)(1)(iii) of this section; or
(3) The Board previously has approved an application by the foreign bank to establish a representative office.
(ii) The Board may waive the 45-day notice period if it finds that immediate action is required by the circumstances presented. The notice period shall commence at the time the notice is received by the appropriate Federal Reserve Bank. The Board may suspend the period or require Board approval prior to the establishment of such office if the notification raises significant policy or supervisory concerns.
(3) General consent for certain representative offices.
(i) The Board grants its general consent for a foreign bank that is subject to the BHC Act, either directly or through section 8(a) of the IBA (12 U.S.C. 3106(a)), to establish:
(A) A representative office, but only if the Board has previously determined that the foreign bank proposing to establish a representative office is subject to consolidated comprehensive supervision;
(B) A regional administrative office; or
(C) An office that solely engages in limited administrative functions (such as separately maintaining back-office support systems) that:
(1) Are clearly defined;
(2) Are performed in connection with the U.S. banking activities of the foreign bank; and
(3) Do not involve contact or liaison with customers or potential customers, beyond incidental contact with existing customers relating to administrative matters (such as verification or correction of account information).
(4) Suspension of general consent or prior notice procedures. The Board may, at any time, upon notice, modify or suspend the prior notice and general consent procedures in paragraphs (a)(2) and (3) of this section for any foreign bank with respect to the establishment by such foreign bank of any U.S. office of such foreign bank.
(5) Temporary offices. The Board may, in its discretion, determine that a foreign bank has not established an office if the foreign bank temporarily operates at one or more additional locations in the same city of an existing branch or agency due to renovations, an expansion of activities, a merger or consolidation of the operations of affiliated foreign banks or companies, or other similar circumstances. The foreign bank must provide reasonable advance notice of its intent temporarily to utilize additional locations, and the Board may impose such conditions in connection with its determination as it deems necessary.
(6) After-the-fact Board approval. Where a foreign bank proposes to establish an office in the United States through the acquisition of, or merger or consolidation with, another foreign bank with an office in the United States, the Board may, in its discretion, allow the acquisition, merger, or consolidation to proceed before an application to establish the office has been filed or acted upon under this section if:
(i) The foreign bank or banks resulting from the acquisition, merger, or consolidation, will not directly or indirectly own or control more than 5 percent of any class of the voting securities of, or control, a U.S. bank;
(ii) The Board is given reasonable advance notice of the proposed acquisition, merger, or consolidation; and
(iii) Prior to consummation of the acquisition, merger, or consolidation, each foreign bank, as appropriate, commits in writing either:
(A) To comply with the procedures for an application under this section within a reasonable period of time; to engage in no new lines of business, or otherwise to expand its U.S. activities until the disposition of the application; and to abide by the Board's decision on the application, including, if necessary, a decision to terminate the activities of any such U.S. office, as the Board or the Comptroller may require; or
(B) Promptly to wind-down and close any office, the establishment of which would have required an application under this section; and to engage in no new lines of business or otherwise to expand its U.S. activities prior to the closure of such office.
(7) Notice of change in ownership or control or conversion of existing office or establishment of representative office under general-consent authority. A foreign bank with a U.S. office shall notify the Board in writing within 10 days of the occurrence of any of the following events:
(i) A change in the foreign bank's ownership or control, where the foreign bank is acquired or controlled by another foreign bank or company and the acquired foreign bank with a U.S. office continues to operate in the same corporate form as prior to the change in ownership or control;
(ii) The conversion of a branch to an agency or representative office; an agency to a representative office; or a branch or agency from a federal to a state license, or a state to a federal license; or
(iii) The establishment of a representative office under general-consent authority.
(8) Transactions subject to approval under Regulation Y. Subpart B of Regulation Y (12 CFR 225.11-225.17) governs the acquisition by a foreign banking organization of direct or indirect ownership or control of any voting securities of a bank or bank holding company in the United States if the acquisition results in the foreign banking organization's ownership or control of more than 5 percent of any class of voting securities of a U.S. bank or bank holding company, including through acquisition of a foreign bank or foreign banking organization that owns or controls more than 5 percent of any class of the voting securities of a U.S. bank or bank holding company.
(b) Procedures for application -
(1) Filing application. An application for the Board's approval pursuant to this section shall be filed in the manner prescribed by the Board.
(2) Publication requirement -
(i) Newspaper notice. Except with respect to a proposed transaction where more extensive notice is required by statute or as otherwise provided in paragraphs (b)(2)(ii) and (iii) of this section, an applicant under this section shall publish a notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the community in which the applicant proposes to engage in business.
(ii) Contents of notice. The newspaper notice shall:
(A) State that an application is being filed as of the date of the newspaper notice; and
(B) Provide the name of the applicant, the subject matter of the application, the place where comments should be sent, and the date by which comments are due, pursuant to paragraph (b)(3) of this section.
(iii) Copy of notice with application. The applicant shall furnish with its application to the Board a copy of the newspaper notice, the date of its publication, and the name and address of the newspaper in which it was published.
(iv) Exception. The Board may modify the publication requirement of paragraphs (b)(2)(i) and (ii) of this section in appropriate circumstances.
(v) Federal branch or federal agency. In the case of an application to establish a federal branch or federal agency, compliance with the publication procedures of the Comptroller shall satisfy the publication requirement of this section. Comments regarding the application should be sent to the Board and the Comptroller.
(3) Written comments.
(i) Within 30 days after publication, as required in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, any person may submit to the Board written comments and data on an application.
(ii) The Board may extend the 30-day comment period if the Board determines that additional relevant information is likely to be provided by interested persons, or if other extenuating circumstances exist.
(4) Board action on application.
(i) Time limits.
(A) The Board shall act on an application from a foreign bank to establish a branch, agency, or commercial lending company subsidiary within 180 calendar days after the receipt of the application.
(B) The Board may extend for an additional 180 calendar days the period within which to take final action, after providing notice of and reasons for the extension to the applicant and the licensing authority.
(C) The time periods set forth in this paragraph (b)(4)(i) may be waived by the applicant.
(ii) Additional information. The Board may request any information in addition to that supplied in the application when the Board believes that the information is necessary for its decision, and may deny an application if it does not receive the information requested from the applicant or its home country supervisor in sufficient time to permit adequate evaluation of the information within the time periods set forth in paragraph (b)(4)(i) of this section.
(5) Coordination with other regulators. Upon receipt of an application by a foreign bank under this section, the Board shall promptly notify, consult with, and consider the views of the licensing authority.
(c) Standards for approval of U.S. offices of foreign banks -
(1) Mandatory standards -
(i) General. As specified in section 7(d) of the IBA (12 U.S.C. 3105(d)), the Board may not approve an application to establish a branch or an agency, or to establish or acquire ownership or control of a commercial lending company, unless it determines that:
(A) Each of the foreign bank and any parent foreign bank engages directly in the business of banking outside the United States and, except as provided in paragraph (c)(1)(iii) of this section, is subject to comprehensive supervision or regulation on a consolidated basis by its home country supervisor; and
(B) The foreign bank has furnished to the Board the information that the Board requires in order to assess the application adequately.
(ii) Basis for determining comprehensive consolidated supervision. In determining whether a foreign bank and any parent foreign bank is subject to comprehensive consolidated supervision, the Board shall determine whether the foreign bank is supervised or regulated in such a manner that its home country supervisor receives sufficient information on the worldwide operations of the foreign bank (including the relationships of the bank to any affiliate) to assess the foreign bank's overall financial condition and compliance with law and regulation. In making such a determination, the Board shall assess, among other factors, the extent to which the home country supervisor:
(A) Ensures that the foreign bank has adequate procedures for monitoring and controlling its activities worldwide;
(B) Obtains information on the condition of the foreign bank and its subsidiaries and offices outside the home country through regular reports of examination, audit reports, or otherwise;
(C) Obtains information on the dealings and relationship between the foreign bank and its affiliates, both foreign and domestic;
(D) Receives from the foreign bank financial reports that are consolidated on a worldwide basis, or comparable information that permits analysis of the foreign bank's financial condition on a worldwide, consolidated basis;
(E) Evaluates prudential standards, such as capital adequacy and risk asset exposure, on a worldwide basis.
(iii) Determination of comprehensive consolidated supervision not required in certain circumstances.
(A) If the Board is unable to find, under paragraph (c)(1)(i) of this section, that a foreign bank is subject to comprehensive consolidated supervision, the Board may, nevertheless, approve an application by the foreign bank if:
(1) The home country supervisor is actively working to establish arrangements for the consolidated supervision of such bank; and
(2) All other factors are consistent with approval.
(B) In deciding whether to use its discretion under this paragraph (c)(1)(iii), the Board also shall consider whether the foreign bank has adopted and implemented procedures to combat money laundering. The Board also may take into account whether the home country supervisor is developing a legal regime to address money laundering or is participating in multilateral efforts to combat money laundering. In approving an application under this paragraph (c)(1)(iii), the Board, after requesting and taking into consideration the views of the licensing authority, may impose any conditions or restrictions relating to the activities or business operations of the proposed branch, agency, or commercial lending company subsidiary, including restrictions on sources of funding. The Board shall coordinate with the licensing authority in the implementation of such conditions or restrictions.
(2) Additional standards. In acting on any application under this subpart, the Board may take into account:
(i) Consent of home country supervisor. Whether the home country supervisor of the foreign bank has consented to the proposed establishment of the branch, agency, or commercial lending company subsidiary;
(ii) Financial resources. The financial resources of the foreign bank (including the foreign bank's capital position, projected capital position, profitability, level of indebtedness, and future prospects) and the condition of any U.S. office of the foreign bank;
(iii) Managerial resources. The managerial resources of the foreign bank, including the competence, experience, and integrity of the officers and directors; the integrity of its principal shareholders; management's experience and capacity to engage in international banking; and the record of the foreign bank and its management of complying with laws and regulations, and of fulfilling any commitments to, and any conditions imposed by, the Board in connection with any prior application;
(iv) Sharing information with supervisors. Whether the foreign bank's home country supervisor and the home country supervisor of any parent of the foreign bank share material information regarding the operations of the foreign bank with other supervisory authorities;
(v) Assurances to Board.
(A) Whether the foreign bank has provided the Board with adequate assurances that information will be made available to the Board on the operations or activities of the foreign bank and any of its affiliates that the Board deems necessary to determine and enforce compliance with the IBA, the BHC Act, and other applicable federal banking statutes.
(B) These assurances shall include a statement from the foreign bank describing the laws that would restrict the foreign bank or any of its parents from providing information to the Board;
(vi) Measures for prevention of money laundering. Whether the foreign bank has adopted and implemented procedures to combat money laundering, whether there is a legal regime in place in the home country to address money laundering, and whether the home country is participating in multilateral efforts to combat money laundering;
(vii) Compliance with U.S. law. Whether the foreign bank and its U.S. affiliates are in compliance with applicable U.S. law, and whether the applicant has established adequate controls and procedures in each of its offices to ensure continuing compliance with U.S. law, including controls directed to detection of money laundering and other unsafe or unsound banking practices; and (viii) The needs of the community and the history of operation of the foreign bank and its relative size in its home country, provided that the size of the foreign bank is not the sole factor in determining whether an office of a foreign bank should be approved.
(3) Additional standards for certain interstate applications.
(i) As specified in section 5(a)(3) of the IBA (12 U.S.C. 3103(a)(3)), the Board may not approve an application by a foreign bank to establish a branch, other than a limited branch, outside the home state of the foreign bank under section 5(a)(1) or (2) of the IBA (12 U.S.C. 3103(a)(1), (2)) unless the Board:
(A) Determines that the foreign bank's financial resources, including the capital level of the bank, are equivalent to those required for a domestic bank to be approved for branching under section 5155 of the Revised Statutes (12 U.S.C. 36) and section 44 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (FDIA) (12 U.S.C. 1831u);
(B) Consults with the Department of the Treasury regarding capital equivalency;
(C) Applies the standards specified in section 7(d) of the IBA (12 U.S.C. 3105(d)) and this paragraph (c); and
(D) Applies the same requirements and conditions to which an application by a domestic bank for an interstate merger is subject under section 44(b)(1), (3), and (4) of the FDIA (12 U.S.C. 1831u(b)(1), (3), (4)); and
(ii) As specified in section 5(a)(7) of the IBA (12 U.S.C. 3103(a)(7)), the Board may not approve an application to establish a branch through a change in status of an agency or limited branch outside the foreign bank's home state unless:
(A) The establishment and operation of such branch is permitted by such state; and
(B) Such agency or branch has been in operation in such state for a period of time that meets the state's minimum age requirement permitted under section 44(a)(5) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (12 U.S.C. 183u(a)(5)).
(4) Board conditions on approval. The Board may impose any conditions on its approval as it deems necessary, including a condition which may permit future termination by the Board of any activities or, in the case of a federal branch or a federal agency, by the Comptroller, based on the inability of the foreign bank to provide information on its activities or those of its affiliates that the Board deems necessary to determine and enforce compliance with U.S. banking laws.
(d) Representative offices -
(1) Permissible activities. A representative office may engage in:
(i) Representational and administrative functions. Representational and administrative functions in connection with the banking activities of the foreign bank, which may include soliciting new business for the foreign bank; conducting research; acting as liaison between the foreign bank's head office and customers in the United States; performing preliminary and servicing steps in connection with lending; 11 or performing back-office functions; but shall not include contracting for any deposit or deposit-like liability, lending money, or engaging in any other banking activity for the foreign bank;
11 See 12 CFR 250.141(h) for activities that constitute preliminary and servicing steps.
(ii) Credit approvals under certain circumstances. Making credit decisions if the foreign bank also operates one or more branches or agencies in the United States, the loans approved at the representative office are made by a U.S. office of the bank, and the loan proceeds are not disbursed in the representative office; and
(iii) Other functions. Other functions for or on behalf of the foreign bank or its affiliates, such as operating as a regional administrative office of the foreign bank, but only to the extent that these other functions are not banking activities and are not prohibited by applicable federal or state law, or by ruling or order of the Board.
(2) Standards for approval of representative offices. As specified in section 10(a)(2) of the IBA (12 U.S.C. 3107(a)(2)), in acting on the application of a foreign bank to establish a representative office, the Board shall take into account, to the extent it deems appropriate, the standards for approval set out in paragraph (c) of this section. The standard regarding supervision by the foreign bank's home country supervisor (as set out in paragraph (c)(1)(i)(A) of this section) will be met, in the case of a representative office application, if the Board makes a finding that the applicant bank is subject to a supervisory framework that is consistent with the activities of the proposed representative office, taking into account the nature of such activities and the operating record of the applicant.
(3) Special-purpose foreign government-owned banks. A foreign government-owned organization engaged in banking activities in its home country that are not commercial in nature may apply to the Board for a determination that the organization is not a foreign bank for purposes of this section. A written request setting forth the basis for such a determination may be submitted to the Reserve Bank of the District in which the foreign organization's representative office is located in the United States, or to the Board, in the case of a proposed establishment of a representative office. The Board shall review and act upon each request on a case-by-case basis.
(4) Additional requirements. The Board may impose any additional requirements that it determines to be necessary to carry out the purposes of the IBA.
(e) Preservation of existing authority. Nothing in this subpart shall be construed to relieve any foreign bank or foreign banking organization from any otherwise applicable requirement of federal or state law, including any applicable licensing requirement.
(f) Reports of crimes and suspected crimes. Except for a federal branch or a federal agency or a state branch that is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), a branch, agency, or representative office of a foreign bank operating in the United States shall file a suspicious activity report in accordance with the provisions of § 208.62 of Regulation H (12 CFR 208.62).
(g) Management of shell branches.
(1) A state-licensed branch or agency shall not manage, through an office of the foreign bank which is located outside the United States and is managed or controlled by such state-licensed branch or agency, any type of activity that a bank organized under the laws of the United States or any state is not permitted to manage at any branch or subsidiary of such bank which is located outside the United States.
(2) For purposes of this paragraph (g), an office of a foreign bank located outside the United States is “managed or controlled” by a state-licensed branch or agency if a majority of the responsibility for business decisions, including but not limited to decisions with regard to lending or asset management or funding or liability management, or the responsibility for recordkeeping in respect of assets or liabilities for that non-U.S. office, resides at the state-licensed branch or agency.
(3) The types of activities that a state-licensed branch or agency may manage through an office located outside the United States that it manage or controls include the types of activities authorized to a U.S. bank by state or federal charters, regulations issued by chartering or regulatory authorities, and other U.S. banking laws, including the Federal Reserve Act, and the implementing regulations, but U.S. procedural or quantitative requirements that may be applicable to the conduct of such activities by U.S. banks shall not apply.
(h) Government securities sales practices. An uninsured state-licensed branch or agency of a foreign bank that is required to give notice to the Board under section 15C of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78o-5) and the Department of the Treasury rules under section 15C (17 CFR 400.1(d) and part 401) shall be subject to the provisions of 12 CFR 208.37 to the same extent as a state member bank that is required to give such notice.
(i) Protection of customer information and consumer information. An uninsured state-licensed branch or agency of a foreign bank shall comply with the Interagency Guidelines Establishing Information Security Standards prescribed pursuant to sections 501 and 505 of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (15 U.S.C. 6801 and 6805) and, with respect to the proper disposal of consumer information, section 216 of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (15 U.S.C. 1681w), set forth in appendix D-2 to part 208 of this chapter.
(j) Procedures for monitoring Bank Secrecy Act compliance -
(1) Establishment of Compliance Program. Except for a Federal branch or a Federal agency or a state branch that is insured by the FDIC, a branch, agency, or representative office of a foreign bank operating in the United States shall, in accordance with the provisions of § 208.63 of the Board's Regulation H, 12 CFR 208.63, develop and provide for the continued administration of a program reasonably designed to assure and monitor compliance with the provisions of subchapter II of chapter 53 of title 31, United States Code, the Bank Secrecy Act, and the implementing regulations promulgated thereunder by the Department of the Treasury at 31 CFR part 103. The compliance program shall be reduced to writing, and either:
(i) Approved by the foreign bank's board of directors and noted in the minutes, or
(ii) Approved by a delegee acting under the express authority of the board of directors to approve the Bank Secrecy Act compliance program.
(2) Customer identification program. Except for a federal branch or a federal agency or a state branch that is insured by the FDIC, a branch, agency, or representative office of a foreign bank operating in the United States is subject to the requirements of 31 U.S.C. 5318(l) and the implementing regulation jointly promulgated by the Board and the Department of the Treasury at 31 CFR 103.121, which require a customer identification program.
(k) Registration of residential mortgage loan originators. An uninsured State-licensed branch or agency of a foreign bank or commercial lending company owned or controlled by a foreign bank and any residential mortgage loan originator that it employs are subject to the requirements, including registration requirements, as applicable, of the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act (12 U.S.C. 5101 et seq.) and the Board's implementing regulation set forth in Regulation H at subpart I of part 208 of this chapter.