Legislation that would make it harder for commercial firms like Wal-Mart to get into banking has been approved by the House Financial Services Committee and is headed for a House vote. The Industrial Bank Holding Company Act of 2007, or HR 698, was introduced Jan. 29 by Ohio Republican Paul Gillmor. The bill's 139 co-sponsors include Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank, the committee's chairman. The bill would address an exception in federal law that allows commercial firms or foreign banks to acquire and operate industrial loan companies, or ILCs, which are state-chartered banks that have most of the privileges of insured commercial banks. HR 698 would prevent branch banking by some commercially owned ILCs, and bolster the examination and enforcement authorities of federal regulators. "As the ILC exception grows in popularity, it is creating a parallel banking system which will continue to be exploited should Congress fail to act," Gillmor said in a statement. "The committee's vote...
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