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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

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  • California extends measures to provide regulatory relief, reduce Covid-19 impact

    State Issues

    On October 28, the California governor issued an executive order extending previously granted relief due to the continuing negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on businesses and individuals. The order suspends or extends numerous requirements related to professional fees, reporting and applications through June 2021.

    State Issues Covid-19 California Bank Regulatory

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  • Georgia Department of Banking and Finance issues bulletin regarding lending, liquidity, business continuity, and regulatory reporting

    State Issues

    The Georgia Department of Banking and Finance has issued its monthly bulletin for financial institutions in which it provides guidance on lending, liquidity, business continuity planning, and regulatory reporting. Among other things, the department reiterates the importance of liquidity risk management during Covid-19 and urges financial institutions to consider the impact of certain scenarios on their liquidity. The department also provides questions that financial institutions should consider as part of their pandemic planning. The bulletin also notes that, for banks and credit unions, the department is implementing electronic document and payment submission for correspondence, applications, and requests, including any applicable fees.

    State Issues Covid-19 Georgia Lending Bank Regulatory Risk Management Bank Compliance Credit Union

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  • FINRA adds new Covid-19 FAQs

    Federal Issues

    On April 6, FINRA added new FAQs to its Covid-19 regulatory relief FAQs document, which was launched in March (covered by InfoBytes here). The newly added FAQs state that (i) firms may electronically transmit required copies of the Uniform Termination Notice for Securities Industry Registration (Form U5) to terminated individuals; (ii) the prescribed period in which continuing education must be completed will be extended through May 31 for persons whose window is currently expired or set to expire before June; and (iii) late filing fees for Forms U4/U5 may be refunded or reduced upon request.

    Previously, FINRA added FAQs regarding the “Net Capital Treatment of Covered Loans Under the CARES Act.” The FAQs cover adding back to net capital the “Forgivable Expense Amount” of a loan during the “covered period,” and excluding the loan amount from “aggregate indebtedness.” FINRA will continue to update the FAQ document as necessary, and it will issue a regulatory notice when a date for the termination of the temporary relief measures is determined. 

    Federal Issues FINRA CARES Act Bank Regulatory Covid-19 Supervision

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  • New Hampshire bank regulator exempts PPP loans from legal lending limits

    State Issues

    On April 3, the New Hampshire Banking Department issued guidance to state-chartered banks indicating that loans made under the Small Business Administration’s Payment Protection Program are exempt from applicable legal lending limits because the loans are guaranteed by the Small Business Administration.

    State Issues Covid-19 New Hampshire Bank Regulatory Lending SBA CARES Act

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  • Agencies issue joint statement on loan modifications and reporting for financial institutions

    Federal Issues

    On March 22, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed), CFPB, FDIC, NCUA, OCC, and Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) issued an “Interagency Statement on Loan Modifications and Reporting for Financial Institutions Working with Customers Affected by the Coronavirus” to address the “unique and evolving situation” created by Covid-19. Guidance covered in the statement includes, among other things (i) “encourage[ing] financial institutions to work prudently with borrowers” negatively impacted by disruptions in the economy caused by the virus, to include providing loan modifications to borrowers and mitigating credit risk; (ii) advising that in “accounting for loan modifications” the modifications “do not automatically result in [troubled debt restructurings] (TDRs).” The agencies assert that “short-term modifications made on a good faith basis in response to COVID-19 to borrowers who were current prior to any relief, are not TDRs”; (iii) reporting loans as past due as a result of a payment deferral is “not expected”; (iv) reporting short-term loan arrangements, such as deferrals, as nonaccrual assets is temporarily not required; and (v) reminding financial institutions that restructured loans “continue to be eligible as collateral at the [Fed’s] discount window.” The statement adds that “the agencies view prudent loan modification programs offered to financial institution customers affected by COVID-19 as positive and proactive actions that can manage or mitigate adverse impacts on borrowers, and lead to improved loan performance and reduced credit risk,” and “agency examiners will not criticize prudent efforts to modify terms on existing loans for affected customers.” (See Fed press release; OCC press release; FDIC press release and FIL-22-2020; NCUA press release; CFPB press release; and CSBS press release.)

    Federal Issues Bank Regulatory Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Loan Modification Federal Reserve CFPB FDIC NCUA OCC CSBS Covid-19

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  • OCC issues Comptroller’s Handbook booklet updating deposit-related credit guidance

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On March 12, the OCC issued Bulletin 2020-14 announcing the revision of the Deposit-Related Credit booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook that was issued in September 2018. The revised booklet provides guidance for OCC examiners in connection with the examination and supervision of national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches and agencies of foreign banking organizations that provide small-dollar, unsecured credit products and services such as check credit, overdraft protection, and deposit advance products. The revised booklet includes, among other things, (i) updated guidance following the rescission of OCC Bulletin 2018-28, Deposit-Related Credit: Updated Comptroller’s Handbook Booklet Advance Products (previously covered by InfoBytes here); (ii) changes to OCC issuances, laws, and regulations made since the last booklet; (iii) information explaining the applicability of references to covered savings associations; and (iv) clarifying edits regarding supervisory guidance and sound risk management practices. An appendix containing a sample request letter is also included.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues Supervision OCC Examination Comptroller's Handbook Bank Regulatory Small Dollar Lending Unsecured Loans Overdraft Deposit Advance

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  • Treasury announces anti-terrorist financing plan

    Financial Crimes

    On February 6, the U.S. Treasury Department announced the 2020 National Strategy for Combating Terrorist and Other Illicit Financing. The report provides an overview of the anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) program in the U.S. and details how the program can be updated to be more efficient and effective. Among other things, the report covers the most noteworthy threats to the financial system such as fraud, drug trafficking, and human trafficking, and highlights that one of the greatest vulnerabilities to the U.S. financial system is a failure to collect beneficial ownership information when new companies are formed or when company ownership changes. The report also focuses on ways to make the AML/CFT framework stronger, including through increased transparency and improved financial institution regulation and supervision. Additionally, the report advocates boosting the AML/CFT operational framework through the use of technologies, expanded data analytics, increased information sharing, and promotion of worldwide standards.

    Financial Crimes Federal Issues Department of Treasury Anti-Money Laundering Combating the Financing of Terrorism Bank Regulatory Supervision Of Interest to Non-US Persons

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  • Fed issues enforcement action for flood insurance violations

    Federal Issues

    On February 6, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) announced an enforcement action against a Virginia-based bank for alleged violations of the National Flood Insurance Act (NFIA) and Regulation H, which implements the NFIA. The consent order assesses a $9,500 penalty against the bank for an alleged pattern or practice of violations of Regulation H, but does not specify the number or the precise nature of the alleged violations. The maximum civil money penalty under the NFIA for a pattern or practice of violations is $2,000 per violation.

    Federal Issues Federal Reserve Enforcement Consumer Finance Mortgages Bank Regulatory Bank Supervision National Flood Insurance Act Flood Insurance

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  • FDIC finalizes securitization safe harbor

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On January 30, the FDIC adopted the Final Rule to Revise Securitization Safe Harbor Rule (rule) as recommended by FDIC staff in a memorandum dated January 23. In July, as previously covered by InfoBytes, the FDIC approved a proposal to remove the requirement that, for safe harbor treatment, “the documents governing a securitization issuance require compliance with Regulation AB” of the SEC Regulation AB, “in circumstances where Regulation AB is not, by its terms, applicable to that transaction.” The proposal suggested that “it is no longer clear that compliance with the public disclosure requirements of Regulation AB in a private placement or in an issuance not otherwise required to be registered is needed to achieve the policy objective of preventing a buildup of opaque and potentially risky securitizations such as occurred during the pre-crisis years, particularly where the imposition of such a requirement may serve to restrict overall liquidity.” The final rule—which is unchanged from the proposal—eliminates the “significant disclosure requirements” to no longer mandate that private placements of securitization obligations provide Regulation AB disclosures. With the adoption of the final rule, only those transactions that are subject to Regulation AB are required to make the disclosures. The rule is expected to increase the securitization of residential mortgages and will become effective 30-60 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FDIC Derivatives Bank Regulatory Deposit Insurance Securities Securitization Safe Harbor Rule RMBS Disclosures Mortgages SEC

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  • Fed issues enforcement order for BSA/AML compliance

    Federal Issues

    On January 9, the Federal Reserve Board announced that it entered into a cease and desist order on December 30 with a Texas state-chartered bank due to “significant deficiencies” in the bank’s Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and anti-money laundering (AML) compliance program that were discovered in its latest examination of the bank. The requirements set out for the bank in the order include:

    • Board oversight. The bank must submit a board-approved, written plan to improve oversight of BSA/AML requirements.
    • BSA/AML compliance program. The bank must submit a written BSA/AML compliance program that includes BSA/AML training; independent testing of the compliance program; management of the program by a qualified compliance officer with adequate staffing support; BSA/AML compliance internal controls; and a BSA/AML risk assessment of the bank, its products and services, and its customers.
    • Customer due diligence. The bank must submit a revised customer due diligence program that includes policies and procedures to ensure accurate client account information; a plan to bring existing accounts into compliance with due diligence requirements; a method to assign risk ratings to account holders; policies and procedures to ensure proper customer information is obtained according to the risk of the account holder; and risk-based monitoring procedures and updates to accounts.
    • Suspicious activity monitoring and reporting. The bank must submit a written suspicious activity monitoring and reporting program that includes a documented process for establishing monitoring rules; policies and procedures for review of monitoring rules; customer and transaction monitoring; and policies and procedures for the review of suspicious activity.

    Federal Issues Federal Reserve Bank Regulatory Bank Supervision Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering Enforcement Compliance Customer Due Diligence SARs

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