November 8, 2017 / 3:39 AM / a year ago

Exclusive - Japan's Mitsubishi UFJ gets nod to bring U.S. state branches under federal regulation

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc (MUFG) has received approval from the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to convert its branches in four states into federally regulated ones, a spokesman for Japan’s largest bank confirmed.

FILE PHOTO - Japan's national flag is seen behind the logo of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc (MUFG) at its bank branch in Tokyo, Japan September 5, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

As a result, MUFG’s branches in New York, Illinois, Texas and California will be regulated by federal charters, rather than state, the spokesman said.

MUFG, the parent holding company, owns Union Bank in California, which is already regulated by the OCC.

MUFG’s application was driven by its desire to have a single regulator, said a person familiar with the matter, who did not want to be identified.

A spokesman for the OCC declined to comment.

MUFG’s branch in New York, known as the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd., has been regulated by New York’s Department of Financial Services, which has been known in recent years for its aggressive enforcement.

In 2013, the bank paid $250 million to settle with the regulator for stripping information from $100 billion in wire transfers that authorities said could have been used to police transactions with sanctioned countries like Iran.

A year later, the bank paid the New York regulator an additional $315 million penalty after being accused of misleading regulators regarding its transactions with the sanctioned countries.

A spokesman for the New York regulator declined to comment.

The OCC, meanwhile, under Acting Comptroller Keith Noreika, has promoted a deregulatory agenda in an effort to scale back post-crisis financial rules.

Reporting By Karen Freifeld; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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