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On April 25, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) published a request for comments in the Federal Register on a proposal to amend the Fed’s capital plan rule, capital rule, and stress testing rules by integrating the rules to simplify the capital regime. Under the proposed rule, a financial institution’s required stress capital buffer and stress leverage buffer would be established by the Fed’s supervisory stress test. The stress capital buffer requirement would replace the existing, static 2.5 percent of risk-weighted assets portion of the capital conservation buffer requirement under the standardized approach of the capital rule. The proposal—which would take effect December 31 with financial institutions’ first set of buffer requirements generally going into effect on October 1, 2019—would apply to bank holding companies with total consolidated assets of $50 billion or more, as well as U.S. intermediate holding companies of foreign banking organizations established pursuant to the Fed’s Regulation YY. Community banks, state member banks or saving and loan companies, and bank holding companies that do not meet the required asset threshold would be exempt. All comments must be received by June 25.
On April 10, the Federal Reserve Board (Board) announced proposed changes intended to simplify the capital regime applicable to bank holding companies with $50 billion or more in total consolidated assets by integrating the Board’s regulatory capital rule (capital rule) and Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR) and stress test rules. The proposal introduces a “stress capital buffer” (SCB) requirement which will replace the existing fixed capital conservation buffer requirement. Under the proposal, the size of the SCB will be based on the annual stress test and will be added to the bank’s capital requirements for the coming year. For globally systemically important banks (GSIB), a GSIB surcharge will be added to the determined SCB amount. According to the Board’s announcement, the amount of capital required for GSIBs will generally stay the same or somewhat increase, while non-GSIBs will generally see a modest decrease. Overall, the Board states that the changes would reduce the number of capital-related requirements from 24 to 14. Comments on the proposal are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
On April 4, the CFPB released its eleventh Request for Information (RFI) in a series seeking feedback on the Bureau’s operations. This RFI solicits public comment to assist the Bureau in “assessing the overall efficiency and effectiveness of its consumer financial education programs.” Pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB develops education programs to educate and empower consumers to make better informed financial decisions, and to improve consumers’ financial literacy. The Bureau develops programs for the general public as well as programs designed for special populations. While the Bureau is seeking feedback on all aspects of its financial education initiatives, the RFI specifically seeks comments related to (i) the topics and delivery functions of the programs; (ii) the effectiveness of the programs, including how the Bureau should measure program success; and (iii) how to avoid duplication and improve coordination with other federal agencies. The RFI is expected to be published in the Federal Register on April 9. Comments will be due 90 days from publication.
On April 2, the Federal Reserve Board, the OCC, and the FDIC (agencies) issued a joint press release announcing the adoption of a final rule, which would increase the threshold for commercial real estate transactions requiring an appraisal from $250,000 to $500,000. After receiving more than 200 comments to their July 2017 joint notice of proposed rulemaking (see previous InfoBytes coverage here), the agencies increased the threshold to $500,000, rather than $400,000 as originally proposed. The rulemaking initiative responded to financial industry concerns that adjustments had not been made to the current threshold amounts, which were set 24 years ago. In accordance with the final rule, commercial real estate transactions exempted by the $500,000 threshold will no long require appraisals, but will instead be subject to an evaluation, which is not required to comply with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraiser Practices in order to provide a market value estimate of the real estate pledged as collateral and is not required to be completed by a state licensed or certified appraiser. However, the final rule stipulates that real-estate related transactions secured by a single one-to-four family residential property are excluded. The final rule will take effect immediately upon publication in the Federal Register.
Treasury adjusts for inflation maximum civil monetary penalties assessed under OFAC sanction regulations
On March 19, the U.S. Treasury Department published a final rule in the Federal Register that adjusts for inflation the maximum amount of civil monetary penalties that may be assessed by the Treasury’s Terrorism Risk Insurance Program, Office of Foreign Assets Control, and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network for violations of laws administered by those agencies. The rule became effective immediately.
On March 12, the U.S. Department of Education published an Interpretation in the Federal Register, which takes the position that state regulation of servicers of loans made under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program (Direct Loans) and the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL Program Loans) is preempted by Federal law. Specifically, the Department noted that state “regulation of the servicing of Direct Loans” is preempted because it “impedes uniquely Federal interests,” and state regulation of the servicing of FFEL Program Loans “is preempted to the extent that it undermines uniform administration of the program.” The Interpretation was issued in response to several states having recently enacted regulatory regimes, or sought to apply existing consumer protection statutes, imposing additional requirements on such student loan servicers. The Ranking Member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Representative Bobby Scott, D-VA, issued a statement following the notice of publication on March 9, disagreeing with the Department’s Interpretation: “Congress has not given the Secretary the authority to preempt state consumer protection law for student borrowers. . . . I urge the Secretary to reverse this egregious overreach of Federal authority to rescind states’ ability to protect student borrowers and hold unscrupulous servicers accountable.”
On March 6, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced a proposed rule to modify the Federal Home Loan Banks’ (FHLBanks) Affordable Housing Program (AHP). Under the Federal Home Loan Bank Act, FHLBanks are required to establish an AHP that provides subsidies to low-income consumers to purchase a home; for long-term, low- and moderate-income rental housing; and for the purchase, construction or rehabilitation of qualifying rental housing. According to the FHFA, the proposed amendments are intended to assist FHLBanks in better aligning their AHP funds with the affordable housing needs of their districts. Among other things, the proposed amendments would (i) provide FHLBanks additional authority to allocate their AHP funds; (ii) authorize FHLBanks to establish “special competitive funds” for specific district needs; (iii) allow FHLBanks to create their own project selection criteria; and (iv) align the AHP project monitoring requirements with other federal funding programs. Comments on the proposed rule will be due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
On March 7, the CFPB released its seventh Request for Information (RFI) in a series seeking feedback on the Bureau’s operations. This RFI solicits public comment regarding “the overall efficiency and effectiveness of its rulemaking processes.” The RFI emphasizes that the Bureau is not seeking information related to the particular content of any proposed or final rule—existing rules will be addresses in separate RFIs—or information related to elements of the rulemaking process which are required by law. Specifically, the RFI requests feedback regarding the discretionary aspects of the Bureau’s rulemaking processes, including (i) mechanisms (such as RFIs) the Bureau uses to gather information from stakeholders in advance of initiating a rulemaking; (ii) the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) panel process; (iii) the content and structure of notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRMs); (iv) the NPRM comment process, including time periods and feedback mechanisms; and (v) the content and structure of notices of final rules. The RFI is expected to be published in the Federal Register on March 9. Comments will be due 90 days from publication.
On February 22, the FCC formally published its Restoring Internet Freedom Order (Order) to overturn the 2015 Title II Order (known as, “Net Neutrality” rules). As previously covered in InfoBytes, the FCC voted last December to remove the restrictions barring internet service providers (ISPs) from slowing down or speeding up web traffic based on business relationships. Among other things, the Order’s “light-touch regulatory framework” will require ISPs to “publicly disclose accurate information regarding the network management practices, performance characteristics, and commercial terms of its broadband internet access services sufficient to enable consumers to make informed choices regarding the purchase and use of such services and entrepreneurs and other small businesses to develop, market, and maintain internet offerings. Such disclosure shall be made via a publicly available, easily accessible website or through transmittal to the Commission.” The Order takes effect April 23. The FCC will publish a separate document in the Federal Register announcing the effective date of certain delayed amendatory instructions and the Declaratory Ruling, Report and Order, and Order.
As discussed previously in InfoBytes, two governors signed executive orders last month designed to protect net neutrality in their states.
FinCEN proposes measure against Latvian bank for alleged money laundering schemes, blocks U.S. accounts
On February 13, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a finding and notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), pursuant to Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act, seeking to prohibit the opening or maintaining of correspondent accounts in the United States for, or on behalf of, a Latvian-based bank. The NPRM is being issued based on findings that the bank has “institutionalized money laundering as a pillar of [its] business practices.” According to the NPRM, the bank’s management (i) “permits the bank and its employees to orchestrate and engage in money laundering schemes”; (ii) “solicits the high-risk shell company activity that enables the bank and its customers to launder funds”; (iii) “maintains inadequate controls over high-risk shell company accounts”; and (iv) “seeks to obstruct enforcement of Latvian anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) rules in order to protect these business practices.” Specifically, Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin asserted that the bank’s failure to implement effective AML/CFT and sanctions policies and procedures has become a conduit for widespread illicit activity, “including activity linked to North Korea’s weapons program and corruption connected to Russia and Ukraine.” The measures set forth under the NPRM are designed to protect the U.S. financial system from money laundering and terrorist financing threats. Comments are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
- Daniel R. Alonso to moderate an interactive roundtable at the Latin Lawyer and GIR Connect: Anti-Corruption & Investigations Conference
- APPROVED Checkpoint Webcast: You have license renewal questions, we have answers
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “Fintech trends” at the BIHC Network Elevating Black Excellence Regional Summit
- Jeffrey P. Naimon to discuss "Truth in lending” at the American Bar Association National Institute on Consumer Financial Services Basics
- Daniel R. Alonso to discuss anti-money-laundering at FELABAN Spanish-language webinar “Perspective for banks: LAFT, FINCEN, OFAC, Cryptocurrency”
- Daniel R. Alonso to discuss "What’s new in BSA/AML compliance?" at the Institute of International Bankers Regulatory Compliance Seminar
- Marshall T. Bell and John R. Coleman to speak at 2021 AFSA Annual Meeting
- Jon David D. Langlois to discuss "Regulatory update: What you need to know under the new boss; It won’t be the same as the old boss" at the IMN Residential Mortgage Service Rights Forum (East)
- Daniel R. Alonso to discuss internal investigations at the Institute of Internal Auditors of Argentina Spanish-language webinar
- Benjamin B. Klubes to discuss “Creating a Fantastic Workplace Culture”
- John R. Coleman and Amanda R. Lawrence to discuss “Consumer financial services government enforcement actions – The CFPB and beyond” at the Government Investigations & Civil Litigation Institute Annual Meeting
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Consumer financial services" at the Practising Law Institute Banking Law Institute
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “Regulators always ring twice: Responding to a government request” at ALM Legalweek