August 2, 2010
OCC National Appeals Process Ensures Fairness in Bank Supervision
WASHINGTON — When national banks disagree with appealable agency decisions, the OCC has a clear process for hearing and resolving those differences.
Administered by the OCC's Office of the Ombudsman, the National Bank Appeals Process provides an independent, fair, and binding means of resolving differences stemming from the supervisory process.
"Our responsibility in the National Bank Appeals Process is to ensure established standards and guidance have been applied properly," said OCC Ombudsman Larry Hattix.
The appeals process ensures the most sound decisions possible, Mr. Hattix said. It also reinforces standards and provides lessons for bankers and examiners. Summaries of previous appeal decisions are available on OCC.gov.
"Appeals are often the result of miscommunication," Assistant Ombudsman Sharon Gilstrap said; "that's why the OCC emphasizes its informal process before final decisions are rendered."
OCC policy encourages bankers to discuss potential issues early in the examination process that could lead to a formal appeal with their supervisory team, senior OCC management, or the Ombudsman.
"Early, open communication is the best way to resolve potential issues," Mr. Hattix said.
About the National Bank Appeals Process
The OCC Ombudsman reports directly to the Comptroller of the Currency, operates outside bank supervision channels, and with the consent of the Comptroller, may supersede OCC decisions or actions during the resolution of an appealable matter. A bank may pursue an informal appeal until an agency decision has been made.
Once an agency decision is made, national banks may seek a formal review of any appealable decision or action, including examination ratings, adequacy of loan loss reserves, and loan classifications significant to the bank without fear of reprisal.
National banks may not appeal appointments of receivers or conservators, preliminary examination conclusions, formal enforcement-related actions, rulemaking, FOIA-related disclosures, decisions to disapprove directors or senior executives, or agency decisions that are otherwise subject to judicial review.
To submit a formal appeal, a bank's senior executive must sign the appeal, indicate approval by its board of directors, and submit it directly to the Ombudsman or the Deputy Comptroller representing the OCC supervisory office overseeing the bank.
The OCC determines whether the matter is appealable within five days and typically issues a ruling within 45 days. If a bank disagrees with an appeal decision made by OCC bank supervision channels, it may appeal to the Ombudsman within 30 days of receiving the ruling. The Ombudsman generally rules on second-tier appeals within 30 days.
"The appeals process is an important tool in maintaining OCC credibility and fairness in the supervision process," Mr. Hattix said, "and it works the same for large banks as well as small banks." Each year the OCC issues thousands of examination and corporate decisions, and historically receives fewer than 10 formal appeals each year.
For more information about the National Banks Appeals Process, national banks can download the new brochure at https://www.occ.gov/topics/dispute-resolution/national-bank-appeals/bank-appeals-brochure-2010.pdf or contact the Ombudsman at (202) 874-1530.