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On March 25, CSBS President and CEO John W. Ryan sent a letter to Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin encouraging the agencies to create a liquidity facility under Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act to support mortgage servicers “in anticipation of widespread borrower payment forbearance.” According to the letter, CSBS members—state regulatory agencies responsible for regulating bank and nonbank financial companies—have expressed concerns regarding liquidity and solvency in the mortgage servicing sector, and are particularly focused on monitoring the financial condition of nonbank mortgage servicers. Without a liquidity facility, CSBS warned that “mortgage servicers will experience a severe liquidity shortage that may threaten their continued viability, and by extension, the health of the nation’s housing finance market.”
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.)
On March 9, the Federal Reserve, CFPB, FDIC, NCUA, OCC, and CSBS issued a joint release encouraging institutions to “work constructively with borrowers and other customers in affected communities” and stating that “prudent efforts consistent with safe and sound lending practices should not be subject to examiner criticism.” The agencies also acknowledged that institutions would face staffing and other challenges and committed to expedite requests to provide more convenient availability of services and work to minimize the disruption and burden of examinations and inspections.
On March 6, the Federal Reserve, FDIC, OCC, NCUA, Conference of State Bank Supervisors, and the CFPB—through the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council—issued an Interagency Statement on Pandemic Planning, which, among other things, updates 2006 and 2007 guidance on the need for business continuity plans (BCPs) that address the effects of pandemics. The interagency statement encourages banks to develop plans that, among other things, limit disruption of operations, minimize staff contact by utilizing remote access, and plan for staffing challenges by cross-training bank staff. The statement recommends that the BCPs of financial institutions should include: (i) a preventive program; (ii) a documented strategy that applies to the stages of the pandemic; (iii) a “comprehensive framework of facilities, systems, or procedures to ensure that the institution’s critical operations will continue” (iv) a testing program; and (v) an oversight program to ensure ongoing review and updates to the plan.” The statement also lists websites that offer information on pandemic planning activities. The FDIC and the OCC also published advisories, FIL-14-2020, and OCC 2020-13, respectively.
On March 9, the agencies issued a joint press release encouraging the financial institutions to “meet the financial needs of customers and members affected by” COVID-19. Also, the U.S. Senate sent a letter to trade associations encouraging them to provide job security for employees who self-quarantine or must miss work to take care of sick family members, and to ensure staff will not be required to use all sick leave/vacation leave or “report for work when such leave is exhausted.” The letter urges the entities to work with their customers by waiving late fees and overdraft fees among other measures. The Connecticut Department of Banking issued its own guidance as well regarding temporary remote work, and on March 5, the Washington Department of Financial Institutions issued similar guidance.
On February 25, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) issued a second request for comments on its draft model law language for money services businesses (MSB Model Law)—a primary part of CSBS’s Vision 2020 initiatives, which are intended to modernize state regulation of non-banks and fintech firms. (Vision 2020 InfoBytes coverage is available here.) According to CSBS, the draft MSB Model Law is comprised of “an integrated, 50-state licensing and supervisory system that recognizes standards across state lines.” As previously covered by InfoBytes, last October CSBS requested comments on the draft MSB Model Law language focusing on issue areas identified by the Fintech Industry Advisory Panel—Control, Activity and Exemption Definitions, Safety & Soundness, and Supervision. To finalize the areas of control and supervision, CSBS is seeking a second round of comments by March 11 to address the following issues identified from comments received during the first round.
- The industry expressed implementation concerns, with several parties noting, “that CSBS has no authority to implement the MSB Model Law in individual states and utilizing NMLS to drive consistency could compound differences between states.”
- The proposed control language failed to address uncertainty over the identification of control persons. Moreover, “attempts to exclude passive investors [did] not achieve the intended results.”
- The industry strongly suggested that parity language contained in the draft MSB Model Law—designed to facilitate state adoption—“was overly broad and would create uncertainty if used.”
- Definitions and exemptions fell short on several critical issues.
- The existence of proponents and detractors of both the safety and soundness proposals signaled a divergence within the industry as to the appropriate safeguards for customer funds.
CSBS notes that the MSB Model Law language will help harmonize operations between states. After the comment period ends, CSBS will prioritize the MSB Model Law for release, with control and coordination language expected to be released in the second quarter of 2020, followed by activities and exemption definitions in May. CSBS also plans to work with states and the industry on safety and soundness language, which may be released as early as August.
On February 19, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors announced the launch of a technology platform called the State Examination System (SES) to increase transparency and collaboration with regulated entities. State regulators, who are the primary regulators of non-bank and fintech firms, can use the system for investigations, enforcement actions and complaints. According to the press release, “state regulators will be able to enhance supervisory oversight of nonbanks while making the process more efficient for regulators and companies alike.” Among other things, SES is designed to: (i) “[s]upport networked supervision among state regulators”; (ii) “[s]tandardize workflow, business rules and technology across states”; (iii) [f]acilitate secure collaboration between licensees and their regulators”; (iv) allow examiners to “focus…on higher risk cases”; and (v) promote efficiency by “[m]ov[ing] state supervision towards more multistate exams and fewer single-state efforts.” SES will be managed by the State Regulatory Registry, which also manages the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System.
On January 7, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) released a report by its Fintech Industry Advisory Panel outlining progress made on several initiatives to streamline state licensing and supervision of financial technology companies. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the panel was convened in 2017 as part of Vision 2020—a state regulator initiative to modernize the regulation of fintech companies and other non-banks by creating an integrated, 50-state system of licensing and supervision. The Accountability Report charts progress on initiatives identified by the panel, which, according to the announcement, fit into four focus areas: (i) the use of CSBS regtech for licensing and exams, including expanding the use of NMLS among states across all license types for nonbank financial services, developing “state licensing requirements for multi-state consistency,” and launching a new state examination system; (ii) improved consistency among states, including 26 states signing on to the Multistate Money Service Business (MSB) Licensing Agreement, which is intended to streamline the MSB licensing process; (iii) the creation of uniform definitions and practices and the development of a 50-state MSB model law and state accreditation programs for MSBs, which will encourage greater consistency among states; and (iv) increased regulatory transparency, including online resources for state guidance and exemptions, as well as information sessions with regulators and industry to discuss fintech developments.
Federal and state banking regulators confirmed in a December 3 joint statement that banks are no longer required to file a suspicious activity report on customers solely because they are “engaged in the growth or cultivation of hemp in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.”
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Click here to read the full special alert.
For questions about the alert and related issues, please visit our Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering practice page, or contact a Buckley attorney with whom you have worked in the past.
On October 1, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) issued a request for comments on its Draft Model Law Language for money services businesses (MSBs). According to CSBS, state regulation of MSBs is a primary part of Vision 2020—a state regulator initiative to modernize the regulation of fintech companies and other non-banks by creating an integrated, 50-state system of licensing and supervision. (Previously covered by InfoBytes here.) The model MSB law draft addresses recommendations made by the Payments Subgroup of the Fintech Industry Advisory Panel, and “is based on and overlays the Uniform Money Services Act.” In addition, the draft amends definitions and interpretations that vary between states, and consists of three primary policies: (i) regulations “must sufficiently protect consumers from harm, including all forms of loss”; (ii) regulations “must enable the states’ ability to prevent bad actors from entering the money services industry”; and (iii) regulations “must preserve public confidence in the financial services sector, including the states’ ability to coordinate.” According to the Fintech Industry Advisory Panel, differences in standards and procedures for change in control have created significant administrative burdens, which the working group addressed by standardizing change of control triggers and the definition of control persons. The draft also includes implementation language designed to provide the legal framework to facilitate interstate coordination and the adoption of consistent standards and processes. The proposed language is adapted from current state laws, which focus “on permitting interstate supervision and creating parity between national and state chartered banks.” CSBS notes that using these models will grant states the legal authority to adjust to new products, risks, processes, and technological capabilities in a coordinated manner.
Comment are due November 1.
On September 3, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia again dismissed the Conference of State Bank Supervisors’ (CSBS) lawsuit against the OCC over its decision to allow non-bank institutions, including fintech companies, to apply for a Special Purpose National Bank Charter (SPNB). As previously covered by InfoBytes, the court dismissed the original complaint in April 2018 on standing and ripeness grounds. Then, after the OCC announced last July that it would welcome non-depository fintech companies engaging in one or more core-banking functions to apply for a SPNB, CSBS renewed its legal challenge. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.) In dismissing the case again, the court held that CSBS “continues to lack standing and its claims remain unripe,” adding that “not much has happened since [the original dismissal] that affects the jurisdiction analysis.” Specifically, the court noted its previous holding that CSBS’s alleged harms was “contingent on whether the OCC charters a [f]intech,” but CSBS “does not allege that any [fintech company] has applied for a charter, let alone that the OCC has chartered a [f]intech.” In addition, the court reiterated its prior conclusion that the dispute remains “neither constitutionally nor prudentially ripe for determination.”
The court further acknowledged a contrasting decision issued in May by the U.S. District for the Southern District of New York allowing a similar challenge filed by NYDFS to survive (previous InfoBytes coverage here), stating that it “respectfully disagrees” with that court’s decision “to the extent that its reasoning conflicts” with either of the dismissal decisions in the CSBS cases. Finally, the court denied CSBS’s request for jurisdictional discovery because it will lack jurisdiction “at least until a [f]intech applies for a charter,” which will be publicly disclosed.
- 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