The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) is planning to extend its "safe harbor" policy past March 31 while the board of directors continues to work on new securitization standards.

The safe harbor provides comfort to investors that FDIC will not seize or delay payments on securitized assets sold by failed banks and thrifts. FDIC chairman Sheila Bair said the current safe harbor will be extended while the agency works with industry and other regulators on securitization standards.

One of the standards involves risk retention where banks are required to retain 5% of the credit risk when they securitize mortgages and other assets.

"These reforms would prevent the conflicts of interest we've seen in the past and give investors confidence that they can understand and manage the risks associated with asset-backed securities," Bair told a joint meeting of minority real estate groups.

The comment period on permanently extending the safe harbor and establishing new securitization standards ended Feb. 22.

Industry groups, including the American Securitization Forum (ASF), are urging the FDIC to extend the current safe harbor until the end of this year. ASF noted that Congress is currently working on financial regulatory reform that includes risk retention requirements.

"We are concerned about the potential impact of multiple layers of securitization legislation and regulation without coordination among legislators and regulators," AFS said in its comment letter.

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