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Laws & Regulations

Important Banking Laws

Last Updated: September 14, 2021

The most important laws that have affected the banking industry in the United States are listed below along with short descriptions highlighting major provisions or significant impacts on the FDIC.

Digital versions of most of these laws are available on the Government Printing Office's Federal Digital System (FDsys), and links are provided below. Some older legislation and legislative history may be found on the St. Louis Fed's archive, FRASER. For other legislation, paper copies may be available from a well-stocked law library, and pdf versions are available through commercial services, like HeinOnline.

GPO's compilation of legislative history and bill text for the Federal Reserve Act, the McFadden Act, the Glass-Steagall Act, the Banking Act of 1935, and the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 is available at FRASER.

  • Financial Institutions Supervisory Act of 1966 (P.L. 89-695, 80 STAT. 1028).

    Expanded bank enforcement powers of the Federal banking agencies, permitting regulators to bring cease and desist orders against banks engaged in unsafe and unsound banking practices or other violations of law. Granted the Federal banking agencies authority to remove bank officers and directors for breach of fiduciary duty.

  • International Banking Act of 1978 (P.L. 95-369, 92 STAT. 607).

    Brought foreign banks within the federal regulatory framework. Required deposit insurance for branches of foreign banks engaged in retail deposit taking in the U.S.

  • Financial Institutions Regulatory and Interest Rate Control Act of 1978 (P.L. 95-630, 92 STAT. 3641).

    Created the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. Established limits and reporting requirements for bank insider transactions.

  • Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980 (P.L. 96-221, 94 STAT. 132).

    Established "NOW Accounts." Began the phase-out of interest rate ceilings on deposits. Established the Depository Institutions Deregulation Committee. Granted new powers to thrift institutions. Raised the deposit insurance ceiling to $100,000.

  • Garn-St Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982 (P.L. 97-320, 96 STAT. 1469).

    Expanded the powers of thrift institutions. Expanded FDIC powers to assist troubled banks. through such measures as the Net Worth Certificate (NWC) program, which provided for recapitalization of banks and thrifts that suffered from interest rate shock after deregulation of interest rates on deposits. NWCs were a temporary form of capital that the institution gradually replaced as it became profitable.

  • Competitive Equality Banking Act of 1987 (P.L. 100-86, 101 STAT. 552).

    Also known as CEBA. Established new standards for expedited funds availability. Recapitalized the Federal Savings & Loan Insurance Company (FSLIC). Expanded FDIC authority for open bank assistance transactions, including bridge banks.

  • Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (P.L. 101-73, 103 STAT. 183).

    Also known as FIRREA. FIRREA's purpose was to restore the public's confidence in the savings and loan industry. FIRREA abolished the Federal Savings & Loan Insurance Corporation (FSLIC), and the FDIC was given the responsibility of insuring the deposits of thrift institutions in its place.

    The FDIC insurance fund created to cover thrifts was named the Savings Association Insurance Fund (SAIF), while the fund covering banks was called the Bank Insurance Fund (BIF).

    FIRREA also abolished the Federal Home Loan Bank Board. Two new agencies, the Federal Housing Finance Board (FHFB) and the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), were created to replace it.

    Finally, FIRREA created the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) as a temporary agency of the government. The RTC was given the responsibility of managing and disposing of the assets of failed institutions. An Oversight Board was created to provide supervisory authority over the policies of the RTC, and the Resolution Funding Corporation (RFC) was created to provide funding for RTC operations.

  • Crime Control Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-647, 104 STAT. 4789).

    Title XXV of the Crime Control Act, known as the Comprehensive Thrift and Bank Fraud Prosecution and Taxpayer Recovery Act of 1990, greatly expanded the authority of Federal regulators to combat financial fraud.

    This Act prohibited undercapitalized banks from making golden parachute and other indemnification payments to institution-affiliated parties. It also increased penalties and prison time for those convicted of bank crimes, increased the powers and authority of the FDIC to take enforcement actions against institutions operating in an unsafe or unsound manner, and gave regulators new procedural powers to recover assets improperly diverted from financial institutions.

  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act of 1991 (P.L. 102-242, 105 STAT. 2236).

    Also known as FDICIA. FDICIA greatly increased the powers and authority of the FDIC. Major provisions recapitalized the Bank Insurance Fund and allowed the FDIC to strengthen the fund by borrowing from the Treasury.

    The Act mandated a least-cost resolution method and prompt resolution approach to problem and failing banks and ordered the creation of a risk-based deposit insurance assessment scheme. Brokered deposits and the solicitation of deposits were restricted, as were the non-bank activities of insured state banks. FDICIA created new supervisory and regulatory examination standards and put forth new capital requirements for banks. It also expanded prohibitions against insider activities and created new Truth in Savings provisions.

  • Housing and Community Development Act of 1992 (P.L. 102-550, 106 STAT. 3672).

    Established regulatory structure for government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), combated money laundering, and provided regulatory relief to financial institutions.

  • RTC Completion Act (P.L. 103-204, 107 STAT. 2369).

    Required the RTC to adopt a series of management reforms and to implement provisions designed to improve the agency's record in providing business opportunities to minorities and women when issuing RTC contracts or selling assets. Expands the existing affordable housing programs of the RTC and the FDIC by broadening the potential affordable housing stock of the two agencies.

    Increased the statute of limitations on RTC civil lawsuits from three years to five, or to the period provided in state law, whichever is longer. Provided final funding for the RTC and established a transition plan for transfer of RTC resources to the FDIC. The RTC's sunset date is set at Dec. 31, 1995, at which time the FDIC assumed its conservatorship and receivership functions.

  • Riegle Community Development and Regulatory Improvement Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-325, 108 STAT. 2160).

    Established a Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, a wholly owned government corporation that would provide financial and technical assistance to CDFIs.

    Contains several provisions aimed at curbing the practice of "reverse redlining" in which non-bank lenders target low and moderate income homeowners, minorities and the elderly for home equity loans on abusive terms. Requires the Treasury Department to develop ways to substantially reduce the number of currency transactions filed by financial institutions. Contains provisions aimed at shoring up the National Flood Insurance Program.

  • Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-328, 108 STAT. 2338).

    Permits adequately capitalized and managed bank holding companies to acquire banks in any state one year after enactment. Concentration limits apply and CRA evaluations by the Federal Reserve are required before acquisitions are approved. Beginning June 1, 1997, allowed interstate mergers between adequately capitalized and managed banks, subject to concentration limits, state laws and CRA evaluations. Extends the statute of limitations to permit the FDIC and RTC to revive lawsuits that had expired under state statutes of limitations.

  • Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-208, 110 STAT. 3009).

    Requires the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council and its member agencies to review their regulations at least once every 10 years to identify any outdated or unnecessary regulatory requirements imposed on insured depository institutions. Amended the Fair Credit Reporting Act to strengthen consumer protections relating to credit reporting agency practices.

    Established consumer protections for potential clients of consumer repair services. Clarified lender liability and federal agency liability issues under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. Directed FDIC to impose a special assessment on depository institutions to recapitalize the Savings Association Insurance Fund(SAIF), and aligned SAIF assessment rates.

  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 (P.L. 106-102, 113 STAT 1338).

    Repeals last vestiges of the Glass Steagall Act of 1933. Modifies portions of the Bank Holding Company Act to allow affiliations between banks and insurance underwriters. While preserving authority of states to regulate insurance, the Act prohibits state actions that have the effect of preventing bank-affiliated firms from selling insurance on an equal basis with other insurance agents. Law creates a new financial holding company under section 4 of the BHCA, authorized to engage in: underwriting and selling insurance and securities, conducting both commercial and merchant banking, investing in and developing real estate and other "complimentary activities." There are limits on the kinds of non-financial activities these new entities may engage in.

    Allows national banks to underwrite municipal bonds.

    Restricts the disclosure of nonpublic customer information by financial institutions. All financial institutions must provide customers the opportunity to "opt-out" of the sharing of the customers' nonpublic information with unaffiliated third parties. The Act imposes criminal penalties on anyone who obtains customer information from a financial institution under false pretenses.

    Amends the Community Reinvestment Act to prohibit financial holding companies from being formed before their insured depository institutions receive and maintain a satisfactory CRA rating. Also requires public disclosure of bank-community CRA-related agreements. Grants some regulatory relief to small institutions in the shape of reducing the frequency of their CRA examinations if they have received outstanding or satisfactory ratings. Prohibits affiliations and acquisitions between commercial firms and unitary thrift institutions.

    Makes significant changes in the operation of the Federal Home Loan Bank System, easing membership requirements and loosening restrictions on the use of FHLB funds.

  • International Money Laundering Abatement and Financial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001* (P.L. 107-56).

    Title III of the USA PATRIOT Act. Legislation designed to prevent terrorists and others from using the U.S. financial system anonymously to move funds obtained from or destined for illegal activity. It authorizes and requires additional record keeping and reporting by financial institutions and greater scrutiny of accounts held for foreign banks and of private banking conducted for foreign persons.

    The law requires financial institutions to establish anti-money laundering programs and imposes various standards on money-transmitting businesses. It amends criminal anti-money laundering statutes and procedures for forfeitures in money laundering cases and requires further cooperation between financial institutions and government agencies in fighting money laundering.

  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-204).

    Sarbanes-Oxley established the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board to regulate public accounting firms that audit publicly traded companies. It prohibits firms that audit publicly traded companies from providing other services to the companies they audit, and it requires that CEOs and CFOs of the publicly traded companies certify their companies' annual and quarterly reports. The Act authorized the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to issue rules governing audits.

    The law requires that insiders may no longer trade their company's securities during pension fund blackout periods. It mandates various studies including a study of the involvement of investment banks and financial advisors in the bookkeeping and recordkeeping scandals that motivated enactment of the legislation. Also included are whistle blower protections, new federal criminal laws, including a ban on alteration of documents.

  • The Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act (P.L. 108-100).

    The Act directly affected insured depository institutions and their customers by providing a Federal statutory framework for electronic check processing. The Act allows an original paper check to be removed from the check collection or return process and an image of the paper check to be transmitted electronically. The Act also allows the transmitting bank to create a "substitute check" which contains the electronic picture and payment information if a receiving bank or a customer requires a paper check.

  • Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003* (P.L. 108-159).

    The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act contains extensive amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act designed to improve the accuracy and transparency of the national credit reporting system, to prevent identity theft, and to assist victims. It contains provisions enhancing consumer rights in situations involving alleged identity theft, credit scoring, and claims of inaccurate information. It requires companies to notify consumers who receive credit on terms that are materially less favorable than the most favorable terms available to a substantial proportion of consumers of the company. The purpose of the notice is to alert consumers to the existence of negative information on their consumer report so that the consumer can check their consumer report for accuracy and correct any inaccurate information. Companies that share consumer information among affiliated companies must provide consumers notice and an opt-out for sharing of such information if the information will be used for marketing purposes.

  • The Federal Deposit Insurance Reform Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-171).

    The Act required the merger of the Bank Insurance Fund and the Savings Association Insurance Fund into the Deposit Insurance Fund. The Act also increased the coverage limit for retirement accounts to $250,000 and indexed the coverage limit for retirement accounts to inflation as with the general deposit insurance coverage limit. The Act also granted the FDIC Board the discretion to price deposit insurance according to risk for all insured institutions regardless of the level of the reserve ratio. Soon after enactment, the Federal Deposit Insurance Reform Conforming Amendments Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-173)(February 15, 2006), was passed. This Act provided amendments that were necessary for the complete implementation of Federal Deposit Insurance Reform Act of 2005.

  • Financial Services Regulatory Relief Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-351).

    The Act, among other things, authorized interest payments on balances held at Federal Reserve Banks, increased the flexibility of the Federal Reserve to set institution reserve ratios, extended the examination cycle for certain depository institutions, reduced the reporting requirements for financial institutions related to insider lending, and expanded enforcement and removal authority of the federal banking agencies, such as the FDIC.

  • The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-289).

    This Act focused on housing reform and included provisions addressing foreclosure prevention, community development block grants, and housing counseling. The Act established a temporary Federal Housing Administration refinancing program, called the HOPE for Homeowners Program. In addition, the Act required the FDIC, working jointly with the other Federal banking agencies, to develop and maintain a system for registering with the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry, residential mortgage loan originators who are employees of depository institutions and certain subsidiaries. The Act also amended the Truth in Lending Act to expand the types of home loans subject to good faith estimate disclosures.

  • Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-343).

    This Act authorized the United States Secretary of the Treasury to spend up to 700 billion dollars to purchase distressed assets, particularly mortgage-backed securities, and supply banks with cash.

  • Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-22).

    This Act contains provisions intended to prevent mortgage foreclosures and enhance mortgage credit availability. With respect to the FDIC, the Act lengthened the Deposit Insurance Fund restoration plan period to 8 years, increased the FDIC's borrowing authority to $100 billion, and expanded the FDIC's assessment authority for systemic risk actions.

  • Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (P.L.111-203).

    The Act implemented significant changes affecting the oversight and supervision of financial institutions and systemically important financial companies. It also provided the FDIC with new resolution powers for large financial companies, created a new agency (the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau), introduced (for nonbank financial companies) or codified (for bank holding companies) more stringent regulatory capital requirements, and set forth significant changes in the regulation of derivatives, credit ratings, corporate governance, executive compensation, and the securitization market. A more complete summary is available here: FDIC's Role and Authorities under the Financial Reform Law