On Friday, April 24, 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (the “OCC”) issued a short bulletin reminding federally chartered banks (i.e., national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches and agencies of foreign banks) and other interested parties that the OCC has exclusive visitorial authority over federally chartered banks.  The bulletin states that federally chartered banks need not comply with requests for information from or other exercises of visitorial powers by state regulators, and urges federally chartered banks that receive such requests to contact their OCC examiners-in-charge.

The bulletin is a reminder that federally chartered banks are not subject to states’ administrative oversight authority (though they may be subject to an action in court to enforce applicable state law).  This application of visitorial exclusivity derives from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Cuomo v. The Clearing House, LLC, 557 U.S. 519 (2009), which was codified in 2010 by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  The bulletin mentions that, particularly in light of COVID-19, it is imperative that federally chartered banks be able to implement federal relief programs (such as the Paycheck Protection Program under the CARES Act) without unnecessary delay.