Riggs National Bank has become the first Washington-area bank given permission by the Bank of England to open facilities in Britain, joining 80 other U.S. banks with British branches. Formal approval from the Bank of England, Britain's central bank, came last week.
William Ryland, senior vice president of Riggs, was appointed general manager of the bank's new operation here, which will be opened for business formally on June 23.
"Riggs has come to London because the officers believe they could help very much in British-American trade, using their specalized knowledge of Washington," said Christopher Morgan, a spokesman here for Riggs.
Under Britain's recently passed Banking Act, a bank must be authorized by the Bank of England either as a "recognized bank" or a "licensed depositing institution." Riggs has been granted depositing institution status.
Bank of England sources said that a "recognized bank" generally offers wider services than a "licensed depositing institution." It is Bank of England practice to grant new foreign banks initial permission to open as a depositing institution and after a period of operation to permit them, if so desired, to broaden operations then and become a "recognized bank." t
"There is absolutely no stigma attached to starting out as a licensed depositing institution as Riggs has done," said Morgan. "It's the way all foreign banks start here."
There are an estimated 387 foreign banks now licensed to do business in Britain, according to sources at the Bank of England. And the sheer size and complexity of London's banking has forced the Bank of England to begin closer regulation and licensing of banks.
Riggs received permission to open after making a mandatory application to the Bank of England. Under the Banking Act, all banks in Britain had to apply for Bank of England approval before March.
Although Riggs has now become Washington's first bank to come to Britain, it is not quite accurate to say it has never done business in Britain before. Riggs has an office on British soil at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.