Comptroller of the Currency John G. Heimann has announced the creation of a new division of his office that will scrutinze the activities of multinational banking.
The new Multinational Banking Division will begin operations on Jan. 1 under the direction of Billy C. Wood, now Chicago regional administrator of National Banks.
Heimann's announcement comes at a time when the large U.S. banks are being questioned about their role in the recent decline of the dollar.
The Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and three congressional committees have launched investigations into international money trading by the largest U.S. banks.The investigations are an outgrowth, at least partially, of a civil suit filed against Citibank by one of its foreign money traders, David Edwards.
Edwards claims he continually raised allegations of illegal activity within the bank's international division but that the bank refused to take any action and eventually fired him because he persisted in repeating his charges to bank officials.
In an article he wrote for MBA magazine, Edwards alleged that money traders for bankers and multinationals were able to cause certain short-term fluctuations in the price of the dollar, and profit by those fluctuations.
Heimann said the creation of the new division of his office was in response to "the increasing proliferation and scope of multinational operations by large banks."
Centralizing supervision of multinational operations will "result in the largest national banks undergoing a dynamic type of examination and ongoing, multi-purpose financial analysis and monitoring," according to a news release from the Comptroller's office.
"This special emphasis will facilitate a continual scanning of the present and prospective activities of multinational banks relative to all the financial environments in which they operate, thereby providing a more contemporary picture of the entire multinational banking area," Heimann added.
The lack of effective regulation of international money markets has become an increasing concern for governments around the world.