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Why the OCC Raised Exam Fees on Big Banks

"The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has been tightening its supervision of the largest banks — and apparently that upgrade comes with a price.

"The agency said Monday it plans to increase examination fees for the first time in nearly 20 years for institutions with over $40 billion in assets, a step the agency says is necessary because of its expanded role under the Dodd-Frank Act. Among other things, the law required the OCC to assume supervision of federal thrifts.

"Signs of a more robust OCC seem to be everywhere. Following high-profile fiascoes — such as anti-money laundering problems at big banks and the "London Whale" trading mess at JPMorgan Chase — the agency has taken a stronger stance on how it monitors AML activities and formalized its "heightened expectations" program to more aggressively supervise big banks' risk management programs.

"Observers say it makes sense for the agency to conclude it needs more funding to carry out its responsibilities. Under the new proposed fee plan, which banks have until June 12 to comment on, institutions with over $40 billion in assets would be subject to a 14.5% marginal rate hike starting at the end of September. On average, banks and thrifts covered by the rule change would see an average assessment increase of 12%."

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