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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Agencies release statement on LIBOR sunset; CFPB amends Reg Z to reflect transition

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues CFPB OCC FDIC LIBOR Nonbank SOFR Regulation Z TILA

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

On April 26, the CFPB joined the Federal Reserve Board, FDIC, NCUA, and OCC in issuing a joint statement on the completion of the LIBOR transition. (See also FDIC FIL-20-2023 and OCC Bulletin 2023-13.) According to the statement, the use of USD LIBOR panels will end on June 30. The agencies reiterated their expectations that financial institutions with USD LIBOR exposure must “complete their transition of remaining LIBOR contracts as soon as practicable.” Failure to adequately prepare for LIBOR’s discontinuance may undermine financial stability and institutions’ safety and soundness and could create litigation, operational, and consumer protection risks, the agencies stressed, emphasizing that institutions are expected to take all necessary steps to ensure an orderly transition. Examiners will monitor banks’ efforts throughout 2023 to ensure contracts have been transitioned away from LIBOR in a manner that complies with applicable legal requirements. The agencies also reminded institutions that safe-and-sound practices include conducting appropriate due diligence to ensure that replacement alternative rate selections are appropriate for an institution’s products, risk profile, risk management capabilities, customer and funding needs, and operational capabilities. Institutions should also “understand how their chosen reference rate is constructed and be aware of any fragilities associated with that rate and the markets that underlie it,” the agencies advised. Both banks and nonbanks should continue efforts to adequately prepare for LIBOR’s sunset, the Bureau said in its announcement, noting that the agency will continue to help institutions transition affected consumers in an orderly manner.

The Bureau also issued an interim final rule on April 28 amending Regulation Z, which implements TILA, to update various provisions related to the LIBOR transition. The interim final rule updates the Bureau’s 2021 LIBOR Transition Rule (covered by InfoBytes here) to reflect the enactment of the Adjustable Interest Rate Act of 2021 and its implementing regulation promulgated by the Federal Reserve Board (covered by InfoBytes here). Among other things, the interim final rule further addresses LIBOR’s sunset on June 30, by incorporating references to the SOFR-based replacement—the Fed-selected benchmark replacement for the 12-month LIBOR index—into Regulation Z. The interim final rule also (i) makes conforming changes to terminology used to identify LIBOR replacement indices; and (ii) provides an example of a 12-month LIBOR tenor replacement index that meets certain standards within Regulation Z. The Bureau also released a Fast Facts summary of the interim final rule and updated the LIBOR Transition FAQs.

The interim final rule is effective May 15. Comments are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.