Regulators are focusing on reputation and legal risk as they prepare to issue guidance seeking to bolster financial institutions' controls and risk management systems that relate to complex structured transactions. Those transactions, triggering corporate implosions ranging from Enron to the more recent Parmalat, resulted in significant losses among lenders in the debt markets.

"We're optimistic about getting something out in the next couple of months," said Kathy Dick, deputy comptroller for risk evaluation at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

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