April 24, 2014

Florida Banks

Snapshots from the Vault

The new shape of the Florida banking industry is emerging. All sectors aren't being created equal.

Mike Vogel | 10/10/2011

THE INTERNATIONALS
Regulatory Headaches

Analgesics
Leading Florida's international banking group always seems to involve fighting some new regulatory threat. Frank D. Robleto's term this year as president of the Florida International Bankers Association is no exception. Robleto, whose day job is president and CEO of BAC Florida Bank, and his group fear a proposed IRS regulation that would require them to report interest income on accounts held by non-resident aliens.

Depositors come here to avoid political and economic predation at home, he says. They'll switch to banks outside the United States rather than risk their financial information falling into the hands of their governments — and, through porous security there, potentially of criminals.

"We are concerned deposits could fly to other countries," Robleto says. At bankers' behest, all of Florida's congressional delegation signed a letter to President Obama asking him to kill the regulation, saying it "would likely result" in hundreds of billions of dollars leaving the United States.

Frank Robleto
"We are concerned deposits could fly to other countries."

— Frank D. Robleto
president and CEO of BAC Florida Bank

J. Thomas Cardwell, commissioner of the state Office of Financial Regulation, said earlier this year at a government hearing that the rule would cause "some real genuine damage in Florida." He said it could lead to a runoff of foreign deposits, leading to a dramatic drop in money available for local lending — a $64-billion drop if half of foreign deposits ran off — and liquidity issues for state-chartered banks with substantial non-resident alien accounts.

"Last year, 66% of the banks that we regulated were unprofitable. Sixty-five percent of them are under regulatory supervision, as I stand here today," he said in his May statement. "In other words, the banking system in Florida, and particularly in south Florida, is in a fragile state."

Supporters of the IRS regulation argue that the only depositors who shift money are tax evaders.

Tags: Banking & Finance

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