Federal regulators say recent rulings that gave three banks the go-ahead to invest in commercial developments do not set a precedent allowing banks to act as real estate investors, developers or brokers. In testimony before a congressional panel Wednesday, the top lawyer at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency rebutted claims by the National Association of Realtors that the OCC is loosening prohibitions intended to keep banks out of the real estate business. NAR President Thomas Stevens told lawmakers that three OCC rulings in which banks were given the green light to invest in commercial developments represented an inappropriate expansion of banking powers. "We remain concerned about the OCC's real estate decisions and strongly believe that these rulings will inevitably lead to an irreparable breach in the wall separating banking and commerce," Stevens told lawmakers, according to a press release issued by NAR. "Without congressional action, we foresee the OCC stringing toge...
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