In this column, we focus on current events in applications. One of our goals is to provide information to facilitate the processing of applications filed with the Federal Reserve. The tips discussed here relate to requests for confidential treatment of information submitted in applications and a method to file applications electronically and avoid paper filings.
Under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), an application filed with the Federal Reserve is a public document. However, an applicant may request confidential treatment for information it believes is exempt from disclosure under FOIA. For example, if an applicant is of the opinion that disclosure of commercial or financial information would likely result in substantial harm to its competitive position or that disclosure of information of a personal nature would result in a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, confidential treatment of such information may be requested. The request must be submitted in writing concurrently with the filing of the application and must discuss in detail the justification for each portion of the application for which confidential treatment is sought. The request must specifically describe the harm that would result from public release of the information. Also, information for which confidential treatment is requested should be: (1) specifically identified in the public portion of the application (by reference to the confidential section); (2) separately bound; and (3) labeled CONFIDENTIAL. Filers of applications are encouraged to contact staff of the Applications section with questions. Contact information is available here.
If a banking organization wants to avoid filing a number of paper copies with the Federal Reserve in connection with the filing of an application, E-Apps is an alternative. E-apps is a web-based application that allows banking organizations supervised by the Federal Reserve to submit applications online, either directly or through their authorized representatives. E-Apps is intended for applications and notices related to bank holding company mergers, acquisitions and nonbanking activities; state member bank mergers and branch expansion; and international banking applications. The process for submitting applications online has been carefully designed to ensure the confidentiality of the data (as appropriate) and to verify the identity of the filer. Digital certificates are issued to ensure that only authorized users can access the system. Questions pertaining to E-Apps can be directed to Julie Randall of our Applications area at (612) 204-5202. More detailed information on E-apps can be accessed here.