Florida banks ask for help due to oil spill problems

Saying the oil spill has already dealt a dangerous blow to Florida's economy, the state's top banking lobbyist has asked federal regulators to suspend certain requirements on financial institutions to avoid even more disastrous consequences -- including bank failures.

In a three-page letter, Florida Bankers Association President Alex Sanchez asked that regulators suspend for one year higher capital requirements for Florida banks and the use of appraisals for loans, and that they minimize the number of public sanctions placed on banks in the state.

``Unless we work together in giving our banks more time to work through this oil crisis, after we have been trying to get through one of the nation's worst recessions, we will have massive small business and even more bank failures causing a steep increase in unemployment not only in Florida but in the Gulf states region as well,'' he wrote.

The letter, dated Monday, was sent to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and the top regulators at the Office of Thrift Supervision, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

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