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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • SEC Adopts Cross-Border Security-Based Swap Rules


    On February 10, the SEC released a fact sheet on rules that would require non-U.S. companies using personnel located in a U.S. branch or office “to arrange, negotiate, or execute a security-based swap transaction in connection with its dealing activity to include that transaction in determining whether it is required to register a security-based swap dealer.” The rules, which the SEC voted to adopt in its February 10 open meeting, are intended to ensure that U.S. and foreign dealers engaging in security-based swap dealing activity in the United States are subject to Title VII of the Dodd Frank Act. In addition, the final rules would exempt certain international organizations – those excluded from the definition of U.S. person in Exchange Act rule 3a71-3(a)(4)(iii) – from the requirement that non-U.S. persons include transactions they arranged, negotiated, or executed using personnel located in a U.S. branch or office in their dealer de minimis threshold calculations. Effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, but with a later compliance date, the rules should, according to SEC Chair Mary Jo White, “improve transparency and enhance stability and oversight in the security-based swap market, while reducing potential competitive disparities, lessening the likelihood of market fragmentation, and mitigating the risk that may flow into U.S. financial markets.”

    Dodd-Frank SEC Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

  • OFAC Issues Amendments to Cuba Sanctions Regulations

    Federal Issues

    On January 26, OFAC announced amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) to further implement policy changes announced by the Obama Administration on December 17, 2014. The regulatory changes will, among other things, “remove existing restrictions on payment and financing terms for authorized exports and reexports to Cuba of items other than agricultural items and commodities, and establish a case-by-case licensing policy for exports and reexports of items to meet the needs of the Cuban people, including those made to Cuban state-owned enterprises.” Significantly, under the amendments, U.S. depository institutions will be authorized to provide financing for authorized exports and reexports, including issuing a letter of credit. Prior to the amendments, cash-in-advance or third-country financing were the only financing options available for authorized exports.

    OFAC issued new FAQs to address the amended CACR, which were published in the Federal Register on January 27, 2016 and are effective immediately.

    Sanctions OFAC Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

  • FDIC Seeks Comments on Revised Proposed Rule That Would Amend How Small Banks are Assessed for Deposit Insurance

    Consumer Finance

    On January 21, the FDIC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would amend how FDIC-insured banks with less than $10 billion in assets are assessed for deposit insurance. Specifically, the proposed rule would “update the data and revise the methodology that the FDIC uses to determine risk-based assessments for these institutions to better reflect risks and to help ensure that banks that take on greater risks pay more for deposit insurance than their less risky counterparts.” The proposal, which is intended to be revenue neutral, revises an initial June 2015 proposal to, among other things, (i) use a brokered deposit ratio, as opposed to a core deposit ratio, to calculate assessment rates; (ii) remove the existing brokered deposit adjustment for established small banks; and (iii) revise the one-year asset growth measure. The comment period will be open for 30 days upon publication in the Federal Register.

    FDIC Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

  • FDIC Announces Final Rule Amending the Filing Requirements and Procedures for Changes in Control

    Consumer Finance

    On December 16, the FDIC issued Financial Institution Letter FIL-60-2015 announcing the final rule amending filing requirements and processing procedures for notices filed under the Change in Bank Control Act. The final rule applies to all FDIC-supervised institutions, including those with assets under $1 billion. Some of the changes brought by the rule, effective January 1, 2016, include (i) consolidating and conforming the change-in-control regulation of state savings associations and rescinding prior regulation and guidance transferred from the Office of Thrift Supervision; (ii) adopting presumptions of acting in concert with the other federal banking agencies;  (iii) defining terms that were previously undefined, such as “voting securities”; (iii) establishing reporting requirements for stock loans held by foreign banks and their affiliates, and for a CEO and bank director following a change of control; and (iv) subject to waiver, requiring a person who was approved to and has acquired control of a covered institution to file a second notice if that person's ownership, control, or power to vote will increase to 25% or more of any class of voting securities.

    FDIC Directors & Officers Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

  • CFPB Issues Fall Rulemaking Agenda, Potential Student Loan Servicing Rules on Horizon

    Consumer Finance

    On November 20, the CFPB released its fall rulemaking agenda. The CFPB’s notable current initiatives include: (i) addressing arbitration clauses in contracts related to consumer financial products and services and  providing an outline of rulemaking ideas such as “whether to propose rules that would prevent companies from using these agreements to foreclose consumers’ ability to bring class action lawsuits”; (ii) developing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, with an anticipated release date in the first quarter of 2016, to address concerns relating to payday and auto title lending; (iii) finalizing its December 2014 proposed rule, “Prepaid Accounts Under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (Regulation E) and the Truth in Lending Act (Regulation Z),” to address consumer protection concerns relating to reloadable cards and other similar prepaid products; and (iv) considering rules to designate consumer installment loans and vehicle title loans as  “larger participants” under the CFPB’s supervisory authority. Looking ahead, the CFPB’s report highlights the potential for rulemaking to address issues related to credit reporting and student loan servicing. Regarding student loan servicing, the CFPB stresses that it “has made it a priority to take action against companies that are engaging in illegal servicing practices,” and that it will “continue to monitor the market for trends and developments and evaluate possible policy responses, including potentially proposing rules.”

    CFPB Payday Lending TILA Student Lending EFTA Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

  • FinCEN Re-opens Comment Period for Final Rule Imposing Fifth Special Measure against FBME Bank Ltd.

    Consumer Finance

    On November 27, FinCEN published in the Federal Register a Notice to re-open the comment period for its previously issued Final Rule imposing the fifth special measure against FBME Bank Ltd. (FBME). On August 27, the day before the Rule was scheduled to take effect, the United States Court for the District of Columbia Court granted FBME’s motion for a preliminary injunction and enjoined the Final Rule from taking effect. On November 6, the Court granted the Government’s motion for voluntary remand to allow for further rulemaking proceedings. FinCEN’s most recent Federal Register Notice to re-open the comment period for the Final Rule solicits additional comments “particularly with respect to the unclassified, non-protected documents that support the rulemaking and whether any alternatives to the prohibition of the opening or maintaining of correspondent accounts with FBME would effectively mitigate the risk to domestic financial institutions.” Comments are due by January 26, 2016.

    Anti-Money Laundering FinCEN Patriot Act Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

  • Department of Education Finalizes Rules Affecting Federal Student Loan Borrowers

    Consumer Finance

    On October 27, the Department of Education announced final regulations regarding how students access Federal student aid and implementing a Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) program. The new rules addressing access to Federal student aid (i) protect students against “excessive” fees to access aid; (ii) require institutions to give greater choice and information to students about how to receive aid; and (iii) prohibit institutions from requiring students to open certain accounts for the deposit of student aid refunds, among other things. The rules also limit the amount of information institutions can share with third party institutions providing campus debit and prepaid cards to students under partnerships with schools and require schools to disclose on their websites the terms of those partnerships. The second set of rules announced on October 27 establishes an expanded Pay As You Earn program, which caps payments at 10 percent of annual income. The REPAYE plan covers five million more Direct Loan borrowers, without regard to when the borrowers first obtained their loans.

    Student Lending Department of Education Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

  • OCC Updates Floor Plan Lending Guidance

    Consumer Finance

    On October 27, the OCC issued an updated Floor Plan Lending booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook. The revised booklet (i) summarizes the basics of floor plan lending for examiners, including a description of indirect dealer lending and the regulatory and legal foundation for floor plan lending; (ii)  provides banks with sound risk management practices and describes regulatory risk rating guidelines; and (iii) includes an expanded examination procedures section with examples of risk rating cases and factors for determining the quantity of credit risk and the quality of credit risk management. The updated booklet replaces a similarly titled booklet issued in March 1990, as well as section 216 of “Floor Plan and Indirect Lending” issued in January 1994 as part of the former Office of Thrift Supervision’s Examination Handbook.

    Examination OCC Auto Finance Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

  • HUD Proposes "Quid Pro Quo" Rule to Amend FHA Regulations

    Consumer Finance

    On October 21, HUD announced a proposed rule that would formalize the standards for evaluating harassment claims in housing or housing-related transactions under the FHA. The rule – “Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Environment Harassment and Liability for Discriminatory Housing Practices under the Fair Housing Act” – would define “quid pro quo harassment” and “hostile environment harassment,” respectively, as (i) subjecting a person to an unwelcome request or demand because of the person’s protected characteristic and submission to the request or demand is, explicitly or implicitly, made a condition related to the person’s housing; and (ii) subjecting a person to unwelcome conduct that is sufficiently severe or pervasive such that it interferes with or deprives the person the right to use and enjoy the housing or to exercise other rights protected by the FHA. In addition, the proposed rule also would describe standards for “direct liability” and “vicarious liability”, which would apply to all violations under the Act, not solely harassment. In particular, the proposed rule would define “direct liability” to include (i) a person’s own conduct; (ii) failure to take prompt action with respect to a discriminatory housing practice by an employee or action; and (iii) failing to fulfill a duty to take prompt action to correct and end a discriminatory housing practice by a third-party, where the person knew or should have known of the discriminatory conduct. The proposal was published in the Federal Register on October 21, and comments are due by December 21, 2015.

    HUD FHA Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

  • CFPB Finalizes Rule to Update Reporting Requirements of the HMDA

    Consumer Finance

    On October 15, the CFPB finalized a rule amending Regulation C to update the reporting requirements of the HMDA. The final rule changes what data financial institutions must provide to Federal agencies. Data points to be reported under the final rule include: (i) information on applicants, borrowers, and the underwriting process, including age, credit score, debt-to-income ratio; (ii) information about the property securing the loan, such as property value and additional information on manufactured and multifamily housing; (iii) information on the features of the loan, such as pricing information, loan term, interest rate, introductory rate period, non-amortizing features, and the type of loan; and (iv) unique identifiers, including the property address, loan originator identifier, and a legal entity identifier for the financial institution. For more on this rule, please read BuckleySandler's Special Alert.

    CFPB HMDA Agency Rule-Making & Guidance


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