June 19, 2017 – The Florida International Bankers Association (“FIBA”), is pleased and proud to inform its members and the public that Governor Rick Scott signed into law the revised Chapter 663 – International Banking Code. The legislation was passed unanimously in both the Florida House and Senate. The revised Code will be effective January 1, 2018, except as otherwise provided.
“FIBA has been working on these changes with the Florida Office of Financial Regulation (‘OFR’) for over two years and is pleased that this collaborative effort has resulted in important new legislation,” declared David Schwartz, President & CEO of FIBA. “In this regard, FIBA wishes to recognize the efforts of the staff of the OFR, including Commissioner Drew Breakspear and Jeremy Smith, Director of the Division of Banking, for their support through the process of obtaining legislative approval. FIBA is also grateful to its Legal and Regulatory Affairs Committee for its dedication and numerous trips to Tallahassee to further and support the legislative effort. FIBA will continue to work with the OFR during the next few months to conform the related forms and rulings to the revised International Banking Code.”
The significant revisions to Chapter 663 seek to modernize the International Banking Code, making it more attractive to financial institutions currently operating in Florida and to facilitate applications for new financial institutions. To this end, FIBA and the OFR conducted a comprehensive and extensive review of the existing international banking regulations in other states and compared those provisions to their Florida counterparts. FIBA is convinced that the revisions to the International Banking Code will make Florida an even more attractive market for financial institutions.
Below we highlight changes to the revised International Banking Code that may be of special import to banking institutions in Florida:
- The OFR now has discretion to allow the office of an international banking corporation in Florida to remain open and operating despite its parent company being in bankruptcy or similar status and despite its operating under the direct control of the government or a regulator.
- The OFR now has discretion to approve the application of any branch or agency operating for at least 3 years in a safe and sound manner to expand operations in Florida, under an abbreviated application process (FIBA will be working on this with the OFR in the coming months);
- The strict minimum capital requirements for new applicants have been eliminated. Instead, the OFR has moved toward a comprehensive risk-based approach based on safety and soundness when licensing a new international banking corporation in Florida.
- Minimum asset maintenance and capital equivalency deposits have been replaced with a similar risk-based approach based on safety and soundness, as currently contemplated by many other states.
- The OFR has discretion to allow an after-the-fact licensure process of an entity in the event of an acquisition, merger or consolidation, which permits continuity of operations.
- International branches may engage in the same deposit taking activity as federal branches, which clarifies the treatment of domestic deposits.
- Copies of the charter, by-laws and any other policy or procedure not “specific” to the operations of the branch or agency may now be retained in their original language. However, the OFR may request a copy duly translated at the financial institution’s expense.
In addition to the changes affecting banking institutions, FIBA, the OFR and the Florida International Administrators Association (FIAA) agreed to add two new sections to the International Banking Code to address the licensing, regulation and supervision of various international trust entities.
For more information about the International Banking Legislation, please visit https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2017/00435.