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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Agencies propose codifying that supervisory guidance lacks force of law

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve CFPB FDIC NCUA OCC Supervision Examination Enforcement

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

On October 20, the Federal Reserve Board, CFPB, FDIC, NCUA, and OCC released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), which seeks to codify the “Interagency Statement Clarifying the Role of Supervisory Guidance issued by the agencies on September 11, 2018 (2018 Statement).” As previously covered by InfoBytes, the 2018 Statement confirmed that supervisory guidance “does not have the force and effect of law, and [that] the agencies do not take enforcement actions based on supervisory guidance.” The Statement emphasized that the intention of supervisory guidance is to outline agencies’ expectations or priorities and highlighted specific policies and practices the agencies intend to take relating to supervisory guidance to further clarify the proper role of guidance, including: (i) not citing to “violations” of supervisory guidance; (ii) limiting the use of numerical thresholds or other “bright-line” requirements; (iii) limiting multiple issuances of guidance on the same topic; (iv) continuing to emphasize the role of supervisory guidance to examiners and to supervised institutions; and (v) encouraging supervised institutions to discuss supervisory guidance questions with their appropriate agency contact.

In addition to codifying the above elements of the 2018 Statement, the proposal would amend the 2018 Statement by (i) clarifying that references in the Statement limiting agency “criticisms” includes criticizing institutions “through the issuance of [matters requiring attention] MRAs and other supervisory criticisms, including those communicated through matters requiring board attention, documents of resolution, and supervisory recommendations”; and (ii) adding that supervisory criticisms should be “specific as to practices, operations, financial conditions, or other matters that could have a negative effect on the safety and soundness of the financial institution, could cause consumer harm, or could cause violations of laws, regulations, final agency orders, or other legally enforceable conditions.”

Comments are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, which has not yet occurred.


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