Judge’s $10 million order against payday lender falls far short of CFPB request
On January 19, a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ordered an online loan servicer and its affiliates to pay a $10 million penalty for offering high-interest loans in states with usury laws barring the transactions. The judge denied the CFPB’s requested penalty of over $50 million. The judge ordered the company to pay this penalty after determining in September 2016 that the online loan servicer was the “true lender” of the loans that were issued through entities located on tribal land, previously covered by a Buckley Sandler Special Alert. The judge found that a lower statutory penalty was more appropriate than the CFPB’s requested amount because the CFPB failed to show the company “knowingly violated the CFPA.” The judge also rejected the CFPB’s requested restitution of $235 million. In rejecting the CFPB’s requested restitution amount, the judge found that the CFPB had not put forth any evidence that the company “intended to defraud consumers or that consumers did not receive the benefit of their bargain from the [program]” for restitution to be an appropriate remedy. The judge also denied the CFPB’s request for a permanent injunction, finding that the CFPB did not present any evidence to support its assertion that the servicer would violate the CFPA in the future.