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  • NYDFS and Japanese bank settle for $33 million over BSA/AML allegations

    State Issues

    On June 24, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), together with the New York Attorney General, announced a $33 million settlement with a Japanese bank resolving allegations the bank’s internal controls—specifically, its anti-money laundering (AML), Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions compliance programs—at its New York Branch were “systematically deficient” between November 2014 and November 2018. This allegedly resulted in violations of state and federal laws and regulations, as well as two previous NYDFS consent orders from 2013 and 2014. The settlement resolves an action that was commenced by the bank against NYDFS in connection with a 2017 application with the OCC to convert its state-licensed branches in New York, Illinois, and California and its state-licensed agency offices in Texas to federally licensed branches and agency offices. The action sought to block a NYDFS order that would keep the bank under its supervisory purview notwithstanding the OCC’s granting of the federal charter. The settlement indicates that neither NYDFS, NYAG, or the bank admit any wrongdoing, but have agreed to dismiss all outstanding claims, upon the bank’s monetary payment. The settlement states that NYDFS releases the bank of any further obligations related to the previous consent orders and notes that it “will not attempt to exercise any visitorial power or other supervisory, regulatory, or enforcement authority over [the bank] or its branches or agencies.”

    State Issues NYDFS State Attorney General Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering Financial Crimes Consent Order Supervision OCC

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  • Agencies release 2019 list of distressed, underserved communities

    Federal Issues

    On June 17, the OCC, together with the Federal Reserve and the FDIC, released the 2019 list of distressed or underserved communities where revitalization or stabilization efforts by financial institutions are eligible for Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) consideration. According to the joint release from the agencies, the list of distressed nonmetropolitan middle-income geographies and underserved nonmetropolitan middle-income geographies are designated by the agencies pursuant to their CRA regulations and reflect local economic conditions, including changes in unemployment, poverty, and population. For any geographies that were designated by the agencies in 2018 but not in 2019, the agencies apply a one-year lag period, so such geographies remain eligible for CRA consideration for another 12 months.

    Similar announcements from the Federal Reserve and the FDIC are available here and here.

    Federal Issues OCC FDIC Federal Reserve CRA

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  • Agencies finalize streamlined small-institution reporting

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On June 17, the FDIC, the OCC, and Federal Reserve issued the final rule to streamline regulatory reporting for qualifying small institutions to implement Section 205 of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. The agencies adopted the final rule as proposed in November 2018 (covered by InfoBytes here). The final rule permits depository institutions with less than $5 billion in assets—previously set at $1 billion—that do not engage in certain complex or international activities to file the FFIEC 051 Call Report, the most streamlined version of the Call Reports. Additionally, the rule reduces the existing reportable data items in the FFIEC 051 Call Report by approximately 37 percent for the first and third calendar quarters. The rule also includes similar provisions for uninsured institutions with less than $5 billion in total consolidated assets that are supervised by the Federal Reserve and the OCC. The rule notes that the agencies are also committed to “exploring further burden reduction and are actively evaluating further revisions to the FFIEC 051 Call Report, consistent with guiding principles developed by the FFIEC.” The rule will take effect 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC FDIC Federal Register Federal Reserve Call Report EGRRCPA

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  • OCC extends Dodd-Frank stress test compliance date

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On June 4, the OCC extended the deadline for national banks and federal savings associations (FSAs) with consolidated assets between $100 billion and $250 billion to comply with the Dodd-Frank stress test (DFAST) requirements to November 25. In December 2018, the OCC issued a letter noting that prior DFAST exams and OCC supervision have indicated that qualifying banks with consolidated assets within these thresholds have adopted effective stress testing programs and integrated them into their general risk management tools, and as such, “requiring DFAST submissions for these banks in 2019 would provide limited supervisory value.” According to the OCC, the extension is consistent with the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act’s goal of reducing regulatory burden for applicable national banks and FSAs.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC Stress Test Compliance Dodd-Frank EGRRCPA

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  • OCC wants final judgment in NYDFS fintech charter challenge

    Courts

    On May 30, the OCC filed a letter with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York notifying the court that it intends to work with NYDFS to issue a proposed final order to the court in the action challenging the OCC’s decision to allow fintech companies to apply for a Special Purpose National Bank Charter (SPNB). As previously covered by InfoBytes, in May, the court denied the OCC’s motion to dismiss, concluding that, among other things, the OCC failed to rebut NYDFS’s claims that the proposed national fintech charter posed a threat to the state’s ability to establish its own laws and regulations, and therefore, the challenge “is ripe for adjudication.” In its letter, the OCC states that while it “disagrees with the Court’s decision, and reserves its right to appeal, it believes that the decision renders entry of final judgment in this matter appropriate.” An entry of final judgment, would allow the OCC to challenge the decision with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

    Courts Fintech NYDFS OCC Fintech Charter National Bank Act State Issues Preemption

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  • OCC allows institutions affected by severe flooding in south central U.S. to temporarily close

    Federal Issues

    On May 28, the OCC issued a proclamation permitting OCC-regulated institutions, at their discretion, to close offices affected by severe flooding in the south central region of the U.S. “for as long as deemed necessary for bank operation or public safety.” 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.

    Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on disaster relief here.

    Federal Issues OCC Disaster Relief

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  • Federal agencies release host state loan-to-deposit ratios

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On May 28, the Federal Reserve Board, the FDIC, and the OCC released the current host state loan-to-deposit ratios for each state or U.S. territory, which the agencies use to determine compliance with Section 109 of the Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act of 1994. Under the Act, banks are prohibited from establishing or acquiring branches outside of their home state for the primary purpose of deposit production. Branches of banks controlled by out-of-state bank holding companies are also subject to the same restriction. Determining compliance with Section 109 requires a comparison of a bank’s estimated statewide loan-to-deposit ratio to the yearly host state loan-to-deposit ratios. If a bank’s statewide ratio is less than one-half of the yearly published host state ratio, an additional review is required by the appropriate agency, which involves a determination of whether a bank is reasonably helping to meet the credit needs of the communities served by the bank’s interstate branches.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC Federal Reserve FDIC Bank Compliance

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  • OCC issues final rule allowing certain federal savings associations to operate with national bank powers

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On May 24, the OCC issuedfinal rule, which establishes standards permitting federal savings associations with total consolidated assets of $20 billion or less as of December 31, 2017, to elect to operate as “covered savings associations,” with the rights and privileges of national banks. The final rule—issued pursuant to section 206 of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, which amended the Home Owners’ Loan Act (HOLA)—provides that associations who choose this election will retain their federal savings association charters and existing governance frameworks, and will generally be subject to the same duties, restrictions, penalties, liabilities, conditions, and limitations that apply to national banks. Among other things, the final rule also states that “a covered savings association may continue to operate as a covered savings association if, after the effective date of the election, it has total consolidated assets greater than $20 billion.” The final rule takes effect July 1.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC Home Owners' Loan Act Bank Compliance EGRRCPA

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  • Agency officials urge Congress to create central repository to combat money laundering

    Federal Issues

    On May 21, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held a hearing entitled “Combating Illicit Financing By Anonymous Shell Companies Through the Collection of Beneficial Ownership Information.” The Committee heard from the same panel of witnesses who testified in November on the need for modernization of the Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering regime. (Covered by InfoBytes here.) Committee Chairman Mike Crapo opened the hearing by stressing the need to discuss ways in which beneficial ownership information collected in an effort to deter money laundering and terrorist financing through anonymous shell companies can be made more useful.

    Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Director Kenneth Blanco emphasized that while the collection of beneficial ownership information occurs when an account is opened at a financial institution, as required under FinCEN’s Customer Due Diligence Final Rule (CDD Rule), “it is but one critical step toward closing this national security gap.” Blanco stressed that “[t]he second critical step in closing this national security gap is collecting beneficial ownership information at the corporate formation stage,” and stated Congress should develop a streamlined solution.

    FBI Financial Crimes Section Chief Steven D’Antuono agreed with Blanco and said that, from a law enforcement perspective, a central repository would be “extremely helpful.” D’Antuono emphasized his support for the creation of a regime to collect and consolidate beneficial ownership information, which would enable law enforcement agencies to easily identify the beneficial owners of shell companies and help the agencies address illicit financing activity in a timely fashion. He encouraged Congress to consider other countries’ beneficial ownership disclosure requirements when developing legislation.

    OCC Senior Deputy Comptroller for Bank Supervision Policy Grovetta Gardineer also agreed that a standardized approach for beneficial ownership data verification should be established. She highlighted the compliance burden on banks caused by the implementation of the CDD Rule, and suggested that Congress could establish a nationwide requirement, or a centralized database, for legal entities to provide, update and verify beneficial ownership information. In addition, because cross-border transaction activity can present higher risks for money laundering and terrorist financing, she recommended that “foreign legal entities be required to report ownership information either at the time of state registration or upon establishing an account relationship with a U.S. financial institution.”

    Federal Issues Senate Banking Committee FinCEN Beneficial Ownership Financial Crimes Department of Treasury OCC FBI Of Interest to Non-US Persons Anti-Money Laundering Combating the Financing of Terrorism CDD Rule Hearing

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  • FDIC resolves Operation Chokepoint lawsuit

    Federal Issues

    On May 22, the FDIC announced it resolved a 2014 lawsuit brought by payday lenders that  alleged that the FDIC, the OCC and the Federal Reserve abused their supervisory authority during Operation Chokepoint, an Obama Administration DOJ initiative that formally ended in August 2017 (covered by InfoBytes here) and was designed to target fraud by investigating U.S. banks and certain of their clients perceived to be a higher risk for fraud and money laundering. As previously covered by InfoBytes, in 2014, payday lenders filed a lawsuit against the federal banking agencies alleging that they participated in Operation Chokepoint “to drive [the payday lenders] out of business by exerting back-room pressure on banks and other regulated financial institutions to terminate their relationships” with such lenders. The payday lenders argued, among other things, that the initiative resulted in over 80 banking institutions terminating their business relationships with law-abiding companies.

    Along with the announcement of the tentative settlement between the parties, the FDIC released a statement summarizing the FDIC’s internal policies and guidance for FDIC recommendations to financial institutions to terminate customer deposit accounts. The statement also included a letter written to the plaintiffs’ counsel acknowledging that “certain employees acted in a manner inconsistent with FDIC policies with respect to payday lenders in what has been generically described as ‘Operation Choke Point,’ and that this conduct created misperceptions about the FDIC’s policies.” In the press announcement regarding the resolution of the case, the FDIC emphasized that neither the statement nor the letter represent a change in the FDIC’s policy and guidance, and that all “existing applicable regulations and guidance documents remain in full force and effect.” Further, while the May 21 joint status report filed in the case noted that FDIC senior leadership had not yet reviewed the agreement, the report noted that the FDIC does “not anticipate any objections.”

    Additionally, on May 23, the OCC acknowledged it had been dismissed from the litigation as part of the lawsuit’s resolution.

    Federal Issues FDIC OCC Payday Lending Operation Choke Point DOJ Courts

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