The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) approved an interim rule Friday that will institute a one-time special assessment of 20 cents per $100 in domestic deposits on the banking industry in order to quickly restore federal reserves.

FDIC officials said the special charge would immediately raise $15 billion for the Deposit Insurance Fund. The reserves in the DIF dropped 45% in the fourth quarter, falling to $18.9 billion, their lowest level since 1993.

The premium was not without controversy. Office of Thrift Supervision Director John Reich objected to the special premium, arguing it was unfair to charge community banks for problems created mostly by the largest banks. He suggested the FDIC levy a special fee just on systemically important institutions.

But FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said there have also been some community banks that were "in over their head," including relying too heavily on commercial real estate.

The rule carried by a 4 to 1 vote, with Reich voting against it. Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan said the FDIC may still need to tap its $30 billion line of credit with the Treasury Department.

The interim rule essentially reserves the right of the FDIC to charge an additional up-to-10 basis point special premium at a later point if the DIF reserves continue to fall.

The FDIC also approved an increase in regular premium rates, which banks must continue to pay on top of the special assessment. Currently, most banks pay between 12 to 14 basis points. Last fall, the agency proposed broadening that range to 10 to 14 basis points.

But FDIC officials on Friday raised regular premium rates for most banks in the second quarter to between 12 to 16 basis points.

In total, including the special assessment and regular premiums, the FDIC said it expects to raise $27 billion in premiums in 2009. In contrast, it raised just $3 billion in 2008 as institutions continued to use assessment credits granted them under a deposit insurance law enacted in 2006.

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