The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has issued a proposed regulation intended to address an emerging issue in international banking: how to grant non-US branch deposits equal treatment with US deposits in the event of the bank’s insolvency. Below are both big-picture and technical issues that need to be addressed in order to make the proposal effective.
The proposed regulation would effectively grant deposit status at non-US branches of US insured banks to deposits booked there for purposes of the depositor preference provisions of Federal law.1 Its purpose is to provide the benefits of depositor preference status to deposits in branches in other countries. Depositor preference simply means that, in the liquidation of the bank, deposits will be paid ahead of non-deposit unsecured creditors, thereby increasing significantly the likelihood of full or almost-full repayment. This issue has been spotlighted by the United Kingdom, which has proposed to require that UK branches of foreign banks be entitled to depositor preference under their home country insolvency rules or provide clear disclosure of its absence to their depositors. This requirement, if implemented, might create an incentive for US banks to take such steps as making their US offices liable for repayment of such deposits; these would be so-called “dual-office” deposits, in which both a US and a non-US office would be liable for repayment.
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