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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

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  • OCC highlights key risks affecting the federal banking system in semiannual risk report

    Federal Issues

    On December 9, the OCC released its Semiannual Risk Perspective for Fall 2019, identifying and reiterating key risk areas that pose a threat to the safety and soundness of national banks and federal savings associations, including credit, operational, and interest rate risks. While the OCC commented that “bank financial performance is sound,” it also advised that “[b]anks should prepare for a cyclical change while credit performance is strong,” emphasizing that “[c]redit risk has accumulated in many portfolios.” The OCC also highlighted that competition with nonbank mortgage and commercial lending could pose a risk as well.

    Specific areas of concern that the OCC described include: elevation of operational risk as advances in technology and innovation in core banking systems result in a changing and increasingly complex operating environment; increased use of third-party service providers that contribute to continued threats of fraud; need for prudent credit risk management practices that include “identifying borrowers that are most vulnerable to reduced cash flows from slower than anticipated economic growth”; “volatility in market rates [leading] to increasing levels of interest rate risk”; Libor’s anticipated cessation and whether banks have started to determine the potential impact of cessation and develop risk management strategies; and strategic risks facing banks as non-depository financial institutions (NDFI) use evolving technology and expand data analysis abilities (the OCC commented that NDFIs “are strong competitors to bank lending models”). The OCC also noted that there is increased interest from banks in sharing utilities with NDFIs to implement Bank Secrecy Act/anti-money laundering compliance programs and sanctions processes and controls.

    Federal Issues OCC Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Risk Management Bank Regulatory Third-Party LIBOR Fintech Bank Secrecy Act Bank Compliance

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  • FDIC releases September enforcement actions

    Federal Issues

    On October 25, the FDIC announced its release of a list of administrative enforcement actions taken against banks and individuals in September. According to the press release, the FDIC issued 24 orders, which include “one consent order; five removal and prohibition orders; six assessments of civil money penalty; three voluntary terminations of deposit insurance; six section 19 orders; and three terminations of orders of restitution.”

    Among other actions, the FDIC assessed separate civil money penalties (CMPs) against four banks for alleged violations of the Flood Disaster Protection Act:

    • New Jersey-based bank CMP: Failure to (i) notify borrowers that they should obtain flood insurance; and (ii) follow force-placement flood insurance procedures;
    • Wisconsin-based bank CMP: Failure to (i) maintain flood insurance coverage for the term of a loan; (ii) follow force-placement flood insurance procedures; and (iii) provide written notice to borrowers concerning flood insurance coverage prior to extending, increasing, or renewing a loan;
    • Wisconsin-based bank CMP: Failure to (i) follow escrow requirements for flood insurance; and (ii) provide borrowers with notice of the availability of federal disaster relief assistance;
    • Wisconsin-based bank CMP: Failure to (i) obtain flood insurance coverage on loans at the time of origination; (ii) obtain adequate flood insurance; (iii) follow escrow requirements for flood insurance; (iv) follow force-placement flood insurance procedures; and (v) provide borrowers with notice of the availability of federal disaster relief assistance.

    The FDIC also assessed a CMP against an Oregon-based bank for allegedly violating RESPA and the TCPA by (i) placing telemarketing calls to consumers listed on the Do-Not-Call registry; and (ii) using an automated dialing system to send pre-recorded calls or text messages to consumers’ cell phones.

    Additionally, the FDIC entered a notice of charges and hearing against a Georgia-based bank relating to alleged weaknesses in its Bank Secrecy Act compliance program.

    Federal Issues FDIC Enforcement Flood Disaster Protection Act Civil Money Penalties RESPA TCPA Bank Secrecy Act Bank Compliance

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

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On August 9, 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. Banks that do not meet the compliance requirements are subject to sanctions by the OCC. Notably, Section 109 is not applicable to federal savings associations or community banks with covered interstate branches.

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

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  • Fed issues final rules related to rate decreases

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On August 12, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) published two final rules following its July 31 decision to lower the target range for the federal funds rate to 2 - 2.25 percent. These rules affect the primary and secondary credit available to depository institutions as a short-term backup source of funding, as well as reserve requirements that depository institutions must meet.

    A final rule amending Regulation A (Extensions of Credit by Federal Reserve Banks) was issued to reflect the Fed’s approval of a one-quarter percent decrease, from 3 percent to 2.75 percent. Additionally, because the formula for the secondary credit rate incorporates the primary rate, the secondary credit rate also decreased by one-quarter percentage point, from 3.50 percent to 3.25 percent. The amendments are effective August 12, with rate changes for primary and secondary credit applicable on August 1.

    A second final rule amending Regulation D (Reserve Requirements of Depository Institutions) was issued to reflect approval of a one quarter percent decrease to the rate of interest paid on balances maintained to satisfy reserve balance requirements (IORR), along with the rate of interest paid on excess balances (IOER) maintained at Federal Reserve Banks by or on behalf of eligible institutions. The final rule specifies that both the IORR and the IOER are 2.10 percent. The amendments are effective August 12, with IORR and IOER rate changes applicable on August 1.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve Regulation A Regulation D Bank Compliance

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  • OCC releases June enforcement actions

    Federal Issues

    On July 18, 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 personal cease-and-desist orders, civil money penalties, formal agreements, prompt corrective action directives, removal and prohibition orders, and terminations of existing enforcement actions. Included in the list is a formal agreement issued against a Texas-based bank on June 20 for alleged unsafe or unsound practices related to, among other things, compliance risk management and violations of laws and regulations concerning the Flood Disaster Protection Act (FDPA), Bank Secrecy Act, TILA, RESPA, and the Expedited Funds Availability Act. Among other things, the agreement requires the bank to (i) appoint a compliance committee responsible for submitting a written progress report detailing specific corrective actions; (ii) ensure that it has “sufficient and competent management”; (iii) prepare a risk-based consumer compliance program, which must include revised policies and procedures related to the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act, TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule, and the FDPA; and (iv) take measures to “ensure that current and satisfactory credit and proper collateral information is maintained on all loans.”

    Federal Issues OCC Enforcement Bank Compliance Flood Disaster Protection Act Bank Secrecy Act TILA RESPA SCRA

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  • Agencies again defer action against foreign funds under Volcker Rule

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On July 17, the FDIC, the Federal Reserve Board, and the OCC (collectively, the “agencies”) announced that they will not take action against foreign banks for qualifying foreign excluded funds, subject to certain conditions, under the Volcker Rule for an additional two years. The announcement notes that the agencies consulted with the SEC and the CFTC on the decision. Since 2017, the agencies have deferred action on qualifying foreign funds that might be covered under the Volcker Rule (covered by InfoBytes here and here). In a joint statement, the agencies note that they have not finalized revisions to regulations implementing Section 13 of the Bank Holding Company Act, and in order to “provide interested parties greater certainty about the treatment of qualifying foreign excluded funds in the near term,” the agencies are proposing not to take action through July 21, 2021.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Volcker Rule FDIC Bank Compliance Of Interest to Non-US Persons Federal Reserve SEC CFTC

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  • FDIC approves amendments to deposit insurance recordkeeping, joint account determinations

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On July 16, the FDIC approved amendments to two final rules designed to resolve issues related to deposit insurance regulations. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the first of the final rules amends Part 370 of the FDIC’s Rules and Regulations for “Recordkeeping for Timely Deposit Insurance Determination,” to address issues raised during implementation of the final rule adopted in November 2016 (covered by InfoBytes here). Among other things, the amendments to Part 370 require banks with at least two million deposit accounts to upgrade deposit recordkeeping to allow the FDIC to determine the necessary deposit insurance coverage. The rule also allows for an optional one-year extension of the rule’s compliance date of April 1, 2020, provided prior notice is given to the FDIC. The final rule is effective October 1. FDIC Director Gruenberg dissented from the final rule’s approval.

    The second final rule amends Part 330—applicable to banks of all sizes—to update the requirements for verifying participants in joint deposit accounts. Part 330 provides alternatives to the traditional signature card, and will allow satisfaction of proof of joint-ownership to be established by other information contained in a bank’s deposit account records and not solely by signed signature cards of each co-owner. The final rule takes effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FDIC Deposit Insurance Bank Compliance

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  • OCC releases guidance documents for final rule implementing HOLA amendments

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On July 1, the OCC issued Bulletin 2019-31, which describes the process for federal savings associations to make an election to operate as “covered savings associations,” with the rights and privileges of national banks under the May 24 Home Owners’ Loan Act (HOLA) final rule. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the OCC issued a final rule—pursuant to section 206 of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, amending the Home Owners’ Loan Act (HOLA)—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 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.

    Bulletin 2019-31 reminds entities of the July 1 effective date of the final rule and provides details on the process for making an election pursuant to the rule. Additionally, along with the Bulletin, the OCC released a set of Frequently Asked Questions covering the final rule.

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

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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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