- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 18, 2018

WASHINGTON (AP) - A panel of federal regulators is proposing lifting the strict government oversight imposed on Zions Bancorp, a big regional bank that received a taxpayer-funded bailout during the 2008 financial crisis.

The unanimous decision by the Financial Stability Oversight Council announced Wednesday is the latest example of a push, under the Trump administration, to relieve regulatory restrictions that were put into place after the financial meltdown in hopes of averting another crisis.

A final action on the Salt Lake City bank is likely within 60 days.

“The council conducted a careful analysis of Zions’ business and found that there is not a significant risk that Zions could pose a threat to U.S. financial stability,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who chairs the group, said in a statement.

In September, the council voted to remove insurance giant American International Group from the stricter oversight. The regulators said that AIG - whose near-collapse prompted the biggest taxpayer bailout of the crisis at $182 billion - doesn’t pose a threat to financial stability.

The council was created and empowered by the 2010 Dodd-Frank law to collar some large financial companies with stricter supervision as a way to avert a “too-big-to-fail” situation - when the government is forced to rescue them to head off a broader economic collapse. It tagged Zions as a “systemically important” institution, one so big and crucial that it would threaten the financial system’s stability if it veered toward collapse, because it’s a bank holding company whose $65 billion in assets exceed the $50 billion level that automatically triggered the designation.

Zions was among hundreds of banks that received federal bailouts during the crisis. It repaid the $1.4 billion it received by 2012.

Zions has recently received approval from two federal agencies to simplify its structure by merging its holding company with its banking business. That means the holding company will no longer be regulated by the Federal Reserve. If the oversight council makes a final decision to remove the designation and shareholders approve, Zions said it expects to complete the merger in late September.

The bank’s stock rose 2 percent.

The council is led by Mnuchin and includes Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and Jay Clayton, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Those officials and nearly all the other seven members were appointed by President Donald Trump.

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