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On February 25, the FFIEC published updated versions of four sections of the Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) Examination Manual (Manual), which provides examiners with instructions for assessing a bank’s or credit union’s BSA/AML compliance program and compliance with BSA regulatory requirements. The revisions can be identified by a 2021 date on the FFIEC BSA/AML InfoBase and include the following updated sections: Assessing Compliance with Bank Secrecy Act Regulatory Requirements, Customer Identification Program, Currency Transaction Reporting, and Transactions of Exempt Persons. The FFIEC notes that the “updates should not be interpreted as new instructions or as a new or increased focus on certain areas,” but are intended to “offer further transparency into the examination process and support risk-focused examination work.” In addition, the Manual itself does not establish requirements for financial institutions as these requirements are found in applicable statutes and regulations. (See also FDIC FIL-12-2021 and OCC Bulletin 2021-10.)
On February 23, the FDIC released nine technical assistance videos on fair lending compliance. The videos provide FDIC-supervised institutions with a high-level overview on ways to assess and mitigate fair lending risk and understand how examiners evaluate fair lending compliance. Information provided in the videos includes: (i) an overview of federal fair lending laws and regulations for bank directors and senior managers; (ii) ways a bank’s compliance management system can mitigate fair lending risk; (iii) a discussion on how FDIC examiners evaluate fair lending risk during consumer compliance examinations; and (iv) commentary on the following specific fair lending risk factors, one each for overt discrimination, underwriting, pricing, steering, redlining, and marketing.
On February 18, the FDIC, Federal Reserve Board, and the OCC published a joint notice and request for comments on changes to three versions of the Call Report—FFIEC 031, FFIEC 041, and FFIEC 051. The reporting changes, first proposed by the agencies last year, will provide relief to financial institutions with under $10 billion in total assets as of December 31, 2019, by allowing them “to use the lesser of the total consolidated assets reported in its Call Report as of December 31, 2019, or June 30, 2020, when determining whether the institution has crossed certain total asset thresholds to report additional data items in its Call Reports for report dates in calendar year 2021.” The agencies also outline specific thresholds that limit certain eligibility for streamlined Call Reports or that require the reporting of certain additional data items. This relief will only be allowed for calendar year 2021. The agencies will also allow financial institutions that temporarily exceed the $10 billion total asset threshold to use the community bank leverage ratio framework in Call Report Schedule RC R from December 31, 2020, through December 31, 2021, provided the institution meets the other qualifying criteria for this framework. Comments on the proposed changes are due March 22.
On February 23, the CFPB issued a statement noting it is considering whether to revisit final rules issued last year regarding the definition of a Qualified Mortgage and the establishment of a “Seasoned QM” category of loans. As previously covered by InfoBytes, last December the Bureau issued the General QM Final Rule to amend Regulation Z and revise the definition of a “General QM” by eliminating the General QM loan definition’s 43 percent debt-to-income ratio (DTI) limit and replacing it with bright-line price-based thresholds. The General QM Final Rule also eliminates QM status resulting solely from loans meeting qualifications for sale to Fannie or Freddie Mac (GSEs), known as the “GSE Patch.” The Bureau issued a second final rule, the Seasoned QM Final Rule, to create a new category of safe-harbor QMs applicable to first-lien, fixed-rate mortgages that are held in portfolio by the originating creditor or first purchaser for a 36-month period while meeting certain performance requirements, and comply with general QM restrictions on product features and points and fees. The effective date for both final rules is March 1. The General QM Final Rule also has a mandatory compliance date of July 1.
In the statement, the Bureau noted that it is “considering whether to initiate a rulemaking to revisit the Seasoned QM Final Rule,” including whether to revoke or amend the Seasoned QM Final Rule and how that would affect covered transactions for which applications were received after the March 1 effective date. In addition, the Bureau stated that it expects to issue a rule to delay the July 1, 2021 mandatory compliance date of the General QM final rule. Should a proposed rule be finalized, creditors would then “be able to use either the current General QM loan definition or the revised General QM loan definition for applications received during the period from March 1, 2021, until the delayed mandatory compliance date,” the Bureau said. Additionally, the GSE patch would also remain in effect until the new mandatory compliance date, or until the GSEs cease to operate under conservatorship prior to that date.
The same day, the Bureau updated its small entity compliance guide and other compliance aids for the Ability-to-Repay and Qualified Mortgage Rule. The updates reflect amendments set forth in the GSE Patch Extension Final Rule, the General QM Final Rule, and the Seasoned QM Final Rule.
On January 28, the OCC announced it has paused publication of a final rule that would ensure covered national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches and agencies of foreign bank organizations provide all customers fair access to financial services. Delaying publication in the Federal Register “will allow the next confirmed Comptroller of the Currency to review the final rule and the public comments the OCC received, as part of an orderly transition,” the agency explained. Under the final rule (covered by InfoBytes here), banks would be required to grant fair access to financial services, capital, and credit based on the risk assessment of individual customers, rather than broad-based decisions affecting whole categories or classes of customers. The OCC confirmed, however, that its “long-standing supervisory guidance stating that banks should avoid termination of broad categories of customers without assessing individual customer risk remains in effect.”
As previously covered by InfoBytes, on January 20, the Biden administration broadly directed the heads of executive departments and agencies across the federal government (without specifying which departments or agencies are covered) to “immediately withdraw” or delay action on any pending regulations not yet published in the Federal Register.
On January 11, the OCC published an interpretive letter #1176 addressing the OCC’s authority to charter national banks within the scope of 12 U.S.C. § 27(a) of the National Bank Act. As described by the OCC, the statute “recognizes the authority of the OCC to charter a bank that limits its operations to those of a trust company and activities related thereto.” Trust company activities include those “permissible for a state trust bank or company even if those state authorized activities are not necessarily considered fiduciary in nature under 12 U.S.C. § 92a and 12 CFR Part 9.” Accordingly, the letter explains that a national bank chartered under 12 U.S.C. § 27(a) is not limited to fiduciary activities as defined for purposes of 12 C.F.R. Part 9 and may engage in any permissible activities of a trust company. The letter also discusses (i) standards the OCC considers when assessing whether an activity is conducted in a fiduciary capacity; (ii) implications for chartering de novo institutions that limit activities to those of a trust company; (iii) permissible activities of converting state-chartered institutions and the handling of nonconforming assets; and (iv) permissible activities for national banks that do not have fiduciary powers.
On January 4, the OCC issued interpretive letter #1177, which addresses qualifying activities of the affiliates and subsidiaries of national banks and savings associations under the OCC’s 2020 final rule to modernize the regulatory framework implementing the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). As previously covered by a Buckley Special Alert here, the 2020 final rule, among other things (i) updated deposit-based assessment areas; (ii) mandated the inclusion of consumer loans in CRA evaluations; and (iii) included a non-exhaustive illustrative list of activities that qualify for CRA consideration. The interpretive letter states that qualifying activities under the 2020 final rule may include the CRA qualifying activities of the consolidated subsidiaries of a bank, but that a bank’s qualifying activities generally do not include the activities of the bank’s nonbank affiliates. The OCC notes that the “very factors demonstrating the tight link between a bank and its consolidated subsidiary…suggest that activities conducted by a bank’s parent and sister companies should generally not receive CRA credit.” Thus, banks will not be given credit for qualifying activities conducted by such affiliates unless the bank “directly financed or otherwise supported such activities.”
On January 22, the Federal Reserve Board published a notice of proposed rulemaking, which would modify the requirements to file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) for state member banks, Edge and agreement corporations, U.S. offices of foreign banking organizations supervised by the Federal Reserve, and bank holding companies and their nonbank subsidiaries. The proposal would amend the Board’s SAR regulations to allow for the issuance of exemptions from the requirements of those regulations. As previously covered by InfoBytes, in December, the FDIC and the OCC issued similar proposals. As with the OCC and the FDIC proposals, the Board’s proposal is intended “to facilitate supervised institutions in meeting Bank Secrecy Act requirements more efficiently and effectively, including through development of innovative solutions.” Comments on the proposed rule are due February 22.
On January 19, the FDIC issued FIL-04-2021 announcing the adoption of revised Guidelines for Appeals of Material Supervisory Determinations (Guidelines). The Guidelines, originally proposed last August (covered by InfoBytes here), will establish a new, independent Office of Supervisory Appeals (Office) replacing the current Supervision Appeals Review Committee. The new Office will have final authority to resolve appeals by a panel of reviewing officials and will be independent from other divisions within the FDIC that have authority to issue material supervisory determinations. The Guidelines provide that appeals submitted to the Office will be decided by a panel of term-appointed reviewing officials with bank supervisory or examination experience. Additionally, the division director will make an independent supervisory determination without deferring to the judgments of either party, with communications between the Office and members of either the supervisory staff or the appealing institution to be shared with the other party to the appeal. The Guidelines will also permit an institution to request expedited review of its appeal, and will amend the procedures and timeframes for considering formal enforcement-related decisions through the supervisory appeals process. The Guidelines will take effect once the new Office is fully operational. In the meantime, the current guidelines will remain in effect.
On January 19, the Federal Reserve Board adopted a final rule updating the agency’s capital planning and stress testing requirements applicable to large bank holding companies and U.S. intermediate holding companies of foreign banking organizations. Among other things, the final rule, which is generally similar to the Fed’s September 2020 notice of proposed rulemaking (covered by InfoBytes here), conforms the capital planning, regulatory reporting, and stress capital buffer requirements for firms with $100 billion or more in total assets (Category IV) with the tailored regulatory framework approved by the Fed in 2019 (covered by InfoBytes here). The final rule also makes additional changes to the Fed’s stress testing rules, stress testing policy statement, and regulatory reporting requirements related to “business plan changes and capital actions and the publication of company-run stress test results for savings and loan holding companies.” In addition, the Fed’s capital planning and stress capital buffer requirements will now apply to covered saving and loan holding companies subject to Category II, III, and IV standards under the tailoring framework. The Fed notes that firms in the lowest risk category are on a two-year stress test cycle and will not be subject to company-run stress test requirements. The final rule takes effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
- Buckley Webcast: CRA modernization — All eyes turn to the Fed
- Daniel R. Alonso to discuss "How to become an AUSA" at the New York City Bar Association Minorities in the Courts Committee “How To” series
- Michelle L. Rogers and Kathryn L. Ryan to discuss “Fintech U.S. expansion” at the Tech Nation 3.0 cohort meeting
- Melissa Klimkiewicz to discuss "Flood insurance basics" at the NAFCU Virtual Regulatory Compliance School