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On February 11, HUD announced that it will administer and enforce the Fair Housing Act (FHA) to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, in response to President Biden’s Executive Order (E.O.) 13988. According to a memorandum issued by HUD’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity (FHEO), the E.O. directs federal agencies to assess actions taken under federal statutes that “prohibit sex discrimination and to fully enforce those statutes to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” in response to the recent Supreme Court opinion in Bostock v Clayton County (holding that prohibitions against sex discrimination in the workplace contained in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extend to and include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity). The memorandum notes that “the [FHA’s] sex discrimination provisions are comparable in text and purpose to those of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act,” thus HUD intends to enforce the FHA to prevent and combat similar discrimination. The memorandum directs HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity to, among other things, (i) “accept and investigate all jurisdictional complaints of sex discrimination, including discrimination because of gender identity or sexual orientation…”; (ii) “conduct all activities involving the application, interpretation, and enforcement of the [FHA]’s prohibition on sex discrimination consistent with its conclusion that such discrimination includes discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity”; and (iii) ensure FHEO regional offices and other associated agencies review, within 30 days, all allegations of alleged discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation received since January 20, 2020.
On January 26, President Biden issued an Executive Order (E.O.) directing the secretary of HUD to examine the effects of the September 2020 final rule amending the agency’s interpretation of the Fair Housing Act’s 2013 disparate impact standard (2013 Rule). As previously covered by a Buckley Special Alert, the final rule is intended to align its 2013 Rule with the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs et al. v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. and among other things, includes a modification of the three-step burden-shifting framework in its 2013 Rule, several new elements that plaintiffs must show to establish that a policy or practice has a “discriminatory effect,” and specific defenses that defendants can assert to refute disparate impact claims. The E.O. emphasizes HUD’s “statutory duty to ensure compliance with the Fair Housing Act,” and requires the HUD secretary to take any necessary steps, “to implement the Fair Housing Act’s requirements that HUD administer its programs in a manner that affirmatively furthers fair housing and HUD’s overall duty to administer the Act (42 U.S.C. 3608(a)) including by preventing practices with an unjustified discriminatory effect.”
On March 30, the Arkansas governor issued an executive order suspending certain provisions of the Arkansas Code regarding notaries public for the duration of the emergency. The executive order permits an official signature or seal of a notarial certificate or seal to be executed when the principal or signer is present remotely. It also suspends provisions requiring electronic notaries public when a notary public is an Arkansas-licensed attorney, Arkansas-licensed title agent, or is employed by a financial institution registered with the Arkansas State Bank Department and the document signer or witness is present via real-time audio and visual means.
Colorado issues executive order temporarily suspending the personal appearance requirement for notarization due to the presence of Covid-19
On March 27, the Colorado governor issued an executive order temporarily suspending the requirement to appear personally before notarial officers to perform notarizations. The order authorizes the Secretary of State to issue temporary emergency rules to permit notarial officers to perform remote notarizations. The order does not affect the rights or duties of parties to existing contracts of insurance or other private contracts that may require or anticipate in-person notarization of documents. The order expires within 30 days of issuance, unless extended further by executive order.
On March 25, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear issued an executive order mandating that only “life-sustaining businesses” may remain open and encouraged citizens to remain “healthy at home.” The list of life-sustaining businesses includes banks, credit unions, mortgage companies, payday lenders, check cashers, money transmitters, and securities institutions.
On March 23, Indiana Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) issued a statement reiterating that Indiana’s Executive Order 20-08 deems the following financial institutions as essential businesses that are encouraged to stay open and adhere to social distancing guidelines: banks, currency exchanges, consumer lenders, including, but not limited to, credit unions, pawnbrokers, consumer installment lenders and sales finance lenders, title companies, appraisers, financial markets, trading and futures exchanges, payday lenders, affiliates of financial institutions, entities that issue bonds, related financial institutions, and institutions selling financial products.
On March 23, Georgia’s governor issued an Executive Order ordering specific populations to shelter in place and limiting the number of persons gathered in a single location. The order does not address financial institutions or otherwise identify categories of essential business, and expires on April 6.
On January 14, the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced it was imposing sanctions on a North Korean trading corporation and a China-based North Korean lodging facility for facilitating North Korea’s practice of sending laborers abroad. According to OFAC, North Korea’s continued practice of exporting North Koreans as illicit laborers is an ongoing attempt to undermine and evade United Nations Security Council Resolutions. The designated companies’ exportation of workers on behalf of the country, OFAC stated, has generated revenue for the North Korean government or the Workers’ Party of Korea. As a result of the sanctions, “all property and interests in property of these targets that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC.” OFAC noted that its regulations “generally prohibit” U.S. persons from participating in transactions with the designated persons, and warned foreign financial institutions that if they knowingly facilitate significant transactions for any of the designated individuals, they may be subject to U.S. secondary sanctions.
On January 10, the Trump administration issued new sanctions intended to deny the Iranian government revenues from the export of key economic products that may be used to fund its nuclear program. Specifically, newly-issued Executive Order 13902 authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury, in conjunction with the Secretary of State, to impose asset blocking sanctions on any person determined to operate in the construction, mining, manufacturing or textile sectors of the Iranian economy, or any additional sector as they may jointly determine. Additionally, EO 13902 authorizes the imposition of certain sanctions on any person determined to have engaged in, or any foreign financial institution determined to have knowingly facilitated, a significant transaction involving one of the aforementioned sectors of the Iranian economy.
OFAC announces anti-terrorism sanctions targeting foreign banks that transact with designated terrorists
On September 10, the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the designation of 15 leaders, individuals, and entities affiliated with terror groups, pursuant to the newly issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13886, “Modernizing Sanctions to Combat Terrorism,” which updates E.O. 13224. E.O. 13886 provides Treasury and the State Department with “new tools” to identify and designate perpetrators. Most notably, under E.O. 13886, foreign financial institutions are now subject to secondary sanctions, allowing OFAC to prohibit or impose strict conditions on the opening or maintaining in the U.S. of a correspondent account or a payable-through account by any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction for any Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT), or a person acting on behalf of or at the direction of, or owned or controlled by, a SDGT.
As a result of the sanctions, all property and interests in property of the sanctioned targets subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. U.S. persons are also generally prohibited from entering into transactions with designated persons. Finally, OFAC warns that persons that engage in transactions with the designated individuals “may themselves be exposed to sanctions or subject to an enforcement action.”
- Jonice Gray Tucker to join CFPB panel at CBA’s Washington Forum
- Jonice Gray Tucker to moderate “Pandemic relief response and lasting impacts on access, credit, banking, and equality” at the American Bar Association Business Law Section Spring Meeting
- Jeffrey P. Naimon to discuss "Post-pandemic CFPB exam preparation" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Spring Conference & Expo
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Making fair lending work for you" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Spring Conference & Expo
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Reading the tea leaves of President Biden’s initial financial appointees" at LendIt Fintech
- Moorari K. Shah to discuss “CA, NY, federal licensing and disclosure” at the Equipment Leasing & Finance Association Legal Forum
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Compliance under Biden" at the WSJ Risk & Compliance Forum
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “The future of fair lending” at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference