12 CFR § 7.4000 - Visitorial powers with respect to national banks.

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§ 7.4000 Visitorial powers with respect to national banks.

(a) General rule.

(1) Under 12 U.S.C. 484, only the OCC or an authorized representative of the OCC may exercise visitorial powers with respect to national banks. State officials may not exercise visitorial powers with respect to national banks, such as conducting examinations, inspecting or requiring the production of books or records of national banks, or prosecuting enforcement actions, except in limited circumstances authorized by federal law. However, production of a bank's records (other than non-public OCC information under 12 CFR part 4, subpart C) may be required under normal judicial procedures.

(2) For purposes of this section, visitorial powers include:

(i) Examination of a bank;

(ii) Inspection of a bank's books and records;

(iii) Regulation and supervision of activities authorized or permitted pursuant to federal banking law; and

(iv) Enforcing compliance with any applicable Federal or state laws concerning those activities, including through investigations that seek to ascertain compliance through production of non-public information by the bank, except as otherwise provided in paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) of this section.

(3) Unless otherwise provided by Federal law, the OCC has exclusive visitorial authority with respect to the content and conduct of activities authorized for national banks under Federal law.

(b) Exclusion. In accordance with the decision of the Supreme Court in Cuomo v. Clearing House Assn., L. L. C., 129 S. Ct. 2710 (2009), an action against a national bank in a court of appropriate jurisdiction brought by a state attorney general (or other chief law enforcement officer) to enforce an applicable law against a national bank and to seek relief as authorized by such law is not an exercise of visitorial powers under 12 U.S.C. 484.

(c) Exceptions to the general rule. Under 12 U.S.C. 484, the OCC's exclusive visitorial powers are subject to the following exceptions:

(1) Exceptions authorized by Federal law. National banks are subject to such visitorial powers as are provided by Federal law. Examples of laws vesting visitorial power in other governmental entities include laws authorizing state or other Federal officials to:

(i) Inspect the list of shareholders, provided that the official is authorized to assess taxes under state authority (12 U.S.C. 62; this section also authorizes inspection of the shareholder list by shareholders and creditors of a national bank);

(ii) Review, at reasonable times and upon reasonable notice to a bank, the bank's records solely to ensure compliance with applicable state unclaimed property or escheat laws upon reasonable cause to believe that the bank has failed to comply with those laws (12 U.S.C. 484(b));

(iii) Verify payroll records for unemployment compensation purposes (26 U.S.C. 3305(c));

(iv) Ascertain the correctness of Federal tax returns (26 U.S.C. 7602);

(v) Enforce the Fair Labor Standards Act (29 U.S.C. 211); and

(vi) Functionally regulate certain activities, as provided under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, Pub. L. 106–102, 113 Stat. 1338 (Nov. 12, 1999).

(2) Exception for courts of justice. National banks are subject to such visitorial powers as are vested in the courts of justice. This exception pertains to the powers inherent in the judiciary.

(3) Exception for Congress. National banks are subject to such visitorial powers as shall be, or have been, exercised or directed by Congress or by either House thereof or by any committee of Congress or of either House duly authorized.

(d) Report of examination. The report of examination made by an OCC examiner is designated solely for use in the supervision of the bank. The bank's copy of the report is the property of the OCC and is loaned to the bank and any holding company thereof solely for its confidential use. The bank's directors, in keeping with their responsibilities both to depositors and to shareholders, should thoroughly review the report. The report may be made available to other persons only in accordance with the rules on disclosure in 12 CFR part 4.

[61 FR 4862, Feb. 9, 1996, as amended at 64 FR 60100, Nov. 4, 1999; 69 FR 1904, Jan. 13, 2004; 76 FR 43565, July 21, 2011]