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On August 17, the OCC released a list of recent enforcement actions taken against national banks, federal savings associations, and individuals currently and formerly affiliated with such entities. The new enforcement actions include civil money penalty orders, formal agreements, and prohibition orders, each issued with the consent of the parties. The OCC also announced a termination of an existing enforcement action against a bank. Included in the release is a formal agreement entered into with a Minnesota-based bank on June 27 in connection with OCC findings of alleged unsafe or unsound practices relating to, among other things, consumer compliance and third party risk management. In connection to violations of certain Flood Disaster Protection Act rules, the agreement requires the bank to (i) establish a compliance committee to monitor the bank’s progress in complying with the agreement’s provisions; (ii) report such progress to the bank’s board of directors on a quarterly basis; and (iii) implement a written consumer compliance program. This program must also include procedures and guidance for compliance with all consumer protection laws, rules, and regulations to which the bank should adhere, an independent audit program, a comprehensive training program for bank personnel in the consumer protection laws, rules, and regulations as appropriate, and policies to manage risks in the credit process. It also separately requires revisions to the third-party risk management program addressing due diligence and monitoring of third parties, including monitoring for compliance with consumer protection-related laws and regulations.
On August 17, the Federal Reserve Board, the FDIC, the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Division of Financial Institutions, the NCUA, and the OCC issued a joint interagency statement covering supervisory practices for financial institutions affected by the Hawaiian wildfires. The agencies announced that, among other things, the regulators would expedite requests made by institutions for temporary operating facilities. The regulators noted that in most cases, “telephone notice to the primary federal and/or state regulator will suffice” for such requests. The agencies also encouraged financial institutions to work with borrowers in affected communities, explaining that “prudent efforts” to adjust terms on existing loans should not be subject to examiner criticism, in light of the unusual circumstances faced by the financial institutions.
Further, the agencies announced that they understood that damage caused by the wildfires may affect the ability of institutions to comply with publishing requirements for branch closings, relocations, or temporary locations, and instructed institutions experiencing such difficulties to contact their primary federal and/or state regulator. The agencies additionally instructed institutions that face difficulty meeting reporting requirements due to the wildfires to contact their primary federal and/or state regulator, explaining that the agencies “do not expect to assess penalties or take other supervisory action” against institutions that take reasonable steps to comply with reporting requirements. The agencies also announced that financial institutions may receive CRA consideration for loans, investments, or services that revitalize or stabilize federally designated disaster areas. Finally, the agencies encouraged financial institutions to monitor any municipal securities and loans affected by the Hawaii wildfires.
On August 15, the FDIC issued FIL-36-2023 to provide regulatory relief to financial institutions and help facilitate recovery in areas of Mississippi affected by severe storms, straight-line winds, and tornadoes from June 14 - June 19. The FDIC acknowledged the serious impact of the inclement weather faced by affected institutions and encouraged those institutions to work with impacted borrowers to adjust and alter terms on existing loans, provided the measures are done “in a manner consistent with sound banking practices.” Additionally, the FDIC noted that institutions “may receive favorable Community Reinvestment Act consideration for community development loans, investments, and services in support of disaster recovery.” The FDIC will also consider regulatory relief from certain filing and publishing requirements and instructed institutions to contact the Dallas Regional Office if they expect delays in making filings or are experiencing difficulties in complying with publishing or other requirements.
On August 15, the OCC released an annual update to its Bank Accounting Advisory Series (BAAS) which is intended to address a variety of accounting topics and promote consistent application of accounting standards and regulatory reporting among OCC-supervised banks. The BAAS reflects updates to clarify the accounting standards issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board related to, among other things, the elimination of recognition and the measurement of troubled debt restructurings by creditors, loan modifications, and credit losses. The August 2023 edition also includes answers to frequently asked questions from industry and bank examiners. Additionally, the OCC notes that the BAAS does not represent OCC rules or regulations but rather “represents the Office of the Chief Accountant’s interpretations of generally accepted accounting principles and regulatory guidance based on the facts and circumstances presented.”
On August 10, the OCC issued a proclamation permitting OCC-regulated institutions to close offices in areas affected by the wildfires in Hawaii. In issuing the proclamation, the OCC noted that only bank offices directly affected by potentially unsafe conditions should close, and that institutions should make every effort to reopen as quickly as possible to address customers’ banking needs. The proclamation directs institutions to OCC Bulletin 2012-28 for further guidance on actions they should take in response to natural disasters and other emergency conditions.
In addition, the Small Business Association (SBA) announced that it is offering low-interest federal disaster loans to Hawaii businesses and residents and California businesses and residents affected by the severe winter storms, straight-line winds, flooding, landslides and mudslides that occurred February 21 – July 10.
Interest rates for these loans can be as low as 4% for businesses, 2.375% for private nonprofit organizations and 2.375% (2.5% for Hawaii) for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition, with loans up to $500,000 for homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate and $100,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property, including personal vehicles. The loans are part of the SBA’s commitment to “providing federal disaster loans swiftly and efficiently, with a customer-centric approach to help businesses and communities recover and rebuild.”
Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on disaster relief here.
On August 11, the FDIC issued FIL-41-2023 to provide regulatory relief to financial institutions and help facilitate recovery in areas of Hawaii affected by wildfires from August 8 and continuing. The FDIC acknowledged the unusual circumstances faced by affected institutions and encouraged those institutions to work with impacted borrowers to, among other things: (i) extend repayment terms; (ii) restructure existing loans; or (iii) ease terms for new loans, provided the measures are done “in a manner consistent with sound banking practices.” Additionally, the FDIC noted that institutions “may receive favorable Community Reinvestment Act consideration for community development loans, investments, and services in support of disaster recovery.” The FDIC will also consider regulatory relief from certain filing and publishing requirements and instructed institutions to contact the San Francisco Regional Office if they expect a delay in making filings or are experiencing difficulties in complying with publishing or other requirements.
On August 14, the FDIC released its 2023 Risk Review, summarizing emerging risks in the U.S. banking system observed during 2022 and early 2023 in five broad categories: (i) credit risk; (ii) market risk; (iii) operational risk; (iv) crypto-asset risk; and (v) climate-related financial risk. According to the FDIC, the current risk review adds a new section relating to the FDIC’s approach to understanding and evaluating crypto-asset-related markets and activities. Monitoring these risks is among the agency’s top priorities, the FDIC said, and the “failure of three large banking institutions in March and May highlighted certain risks to the banking sector.” The FDIC stated that weaker economic conditions and higher interest rates in 2022 continued through early 2023, and “financial market conditions tightened considerably starting in 2022 on rising interest rates, high inflations, and concerns over a potential recession.” Overall, the FDIC said that “despite these challenges and the market stress in early 2023, the banking industry demonstrated resilience, but industry performance moderated from 2022.”
On August 8, the OCC issued new guidance regarding the applicability of the legal lending limit (LLL) to purchased loans. The guidance clarifies that “all loans and extensions of credit made by banks are subject to the LLL” and explains that “[w]hether a loan that a bank purchases is attributable to the seller under the LLL regulation depends on specific facts and circumstances.” The OCC then further explains, that in evaluating purchased loans, loans will be attributed to a seller if the bank has direct or indirect recourse to the seller, which can be explicit or implied. Explicit recourse is established through a written agreement and implied recourse can be established though the bank’s course of dealing with the seller. For example, the OCC noted that if a seller routinely “substituted or repurchased loans or refilled or replenished a reserve account even when the contract did not require those actions” that would be sufficient to establish implied recourse.
On August 9, Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jack Reed (D-RI), and John Fetterman (D-PA) wrote a letter to the Chair and Vice Chair of Supervision for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System urging the Fed to “review and reconsider” its procedures for approving bank mergers. The letter cites the Dodd-Frank Act’s amendment to the Bank Merger Act, which mandates that federal banking regulators consider whether a proposed merger “would result in greater or more concentrated risks” to the stability of the banking or financial system. The senators also voiced concern that the Fed has “not issued any rules or guidance indicating the types of bank mergers that would implicate financial stability concerns” and criticized the process around the Fed’s approval of recent acquisitions.
On August 2, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) updated its Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) Examination Manual, which provides examiners with instructions for assessing a bank or credit union’s BSA/AML compliance program and adherence to BSA regulatory requirements. The revisions include updates to the following sections:
- Special Information Sharing Procedures to Deter Money Laundering and Terrorist Activity
- Due Diligence Programs for Correspondent Accounts for Foreign Financial Institutions
- Due Diligence Programs for Private Banking Accounts
- Prohibition on Correspondent Accounts for Foreign Shell Banks; Records Concerning Owners of Foreign Banks and Agents for Service of Legal Process
- Summons or Subpoena of Foreign Bank Records; Termination of Correspondent Relationship; Records Concerning Owners of Foreign Banks and Agents for Service of Legal Process
- Reporting Obligations on Foreign Bank Relationships with Iranian-Linked Financial Institutions
The FFIEC noted that the “updates should not be interpreted as new instructions or as a new or increased focus on certain areas,” but rather are intended to “provide information and considerations related to certain customers that may indicate the need for bank policies, procedures, and processes to address potential money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illicit financial activity risks.” In addition, the Manual itself does not establish requirements for financial institutions, which are found in applicable statutes and regulations but rather reinforce the agency’s risk-focused approach to BSA/AML examinations.