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  • OCC urges court to uphold valid-when-made rule

    Courts

    On January 14, the OCC moved for summary judgment in an action filed by the California, Illinois, and New York attorneys general (collectively, “states”) challenging the OCC’s valid-when-made rule, arguing that the challenge is without merit and that the agency “reasonably interprets the ‘gap’ in [12 U.S.C. § 85] concerning what happens when a national bank sells, assigns, or transfers a loan.” As previously covered by InfoBytes, the OCC’s final rule was designed to effectively reverse the Second Circuit’s 2015 Madden v. Midland Funding decision and provides that “[i]nterest on a loan that is permissible under [12 U.S.C. § 85 for national bank or 12 U.S.C. § 1463(g)(1) for federal thrifts] shall not be affected by the sale, assignment, or other transfer of the loan.” The states challenged the rule, arguing that it is “contrary to the plain language” of section 85 (and section 1463(g)(1)) and “contravenes the judgment of Congress,” which declined to extend preemption to non-banks. Moreover, the states contend that the OCC “failed to give meaningful consideration” to the commentary received regarding the rule, essentially enabling “‘rent-a-bank’ schemes.” 

    In response, the OCC argued that not only does the final rule reasonably interpret the “gap” in section 85, it is consistent with section 85’s “purpose of facilitating national banks’ ability to operate their nationwide lending programs.” Moreover, the agency asserts that 12 U.S.C. § 25b’s preemption standards do not apply to the final rule, because, among other things, the OCC “has not concluded that a state consumer financial law is being preempted.” The final rule “addresses only the ‘substantive [ ] meaning’ of § 85” and Congress “expressly exempted OCC’s interpretations of § 85 from § 25b’s requirements.” Lastly, the OCC argued that it made an “informed and reasoned decision,” including addressing issues raised during the public comment period. Thus, the court should uphold the final rule and affirm summary judgment for the agency.

    Courts State Issues State Attorney General OCC Madden Fintech Interest Rate New York California Illinois Preemption

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  • District court dismisses credit card usury claims

    Courts

    On September 28, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York dismissed a putative class action alleging a national bank’s subsidiaries and trustee (collectively, “defendants”) violated New York usury and banking laws by charging and receiving payments at interest rates above the state’s 16 percent limits. The defendants moved to dismiss the action, arguing that the claims are preempted by the National Bank Act (NBA) because the national bank parent company, which is located in a state that does not impose interest rate limits so long as the rate is disclosed to the borrower, owned the credit card accounts underlying the securitization, and would therefore not be subject to New York’s limitations. The court agreed with the defendants, concluding that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s decision in Madden v. Midland Funding LLC (covered by a Buckley Special Alert) supported the premise that the NBA preempts the usury claims. Specifically, the court noted that the case is distinguishable from Madden in that the national bank retained ownership of the credit card accounts throughout securitization and thus, “maintains a continuous relationship with the customer accounts that goes beyond its designation as originator of those accounts.” The court also rejected the plaintiffs’ unjust enrichment claim, because it was duplicative of the usury claim and therefore was also preempted. Thus, the court dismissed the action in its entirety with prejudice, noting that “any pleading amendment would be futile.”

    Courts Credit Cards National Bank Act Preemption Interest Madden State Issues

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  • District court: Usury claims preempted by National Bank Act

    Courts

    On September 21, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York dismissed allegations against two entities affiliated with a national bank, and a trust acting as trustee of one of the entities, ruling that a plaintiff’s “state-law usury claims are expressly preempted by the [National Banking Act].” The court noted that, “[e]ven before the OCC issued its rule clarifying that interest permissible before a transfer remains permissible after the transfer, [the plaintiff’s] claims would have been preempted” because the national bank “continues to possess an ‘interest in the account.’” The plaintiff contended he was charged usurious interest rates that exceeded New York’s interest rate cap on unsecured credit card loans originated by the national bank. According to the opinion, one of the entities contracted with the bank to service the credit card loans, with the bank retaining ownership of the accounts. The plaintiff argued that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s decision in Madden v. Midland Funding LLC (covered by a Buckley Special Alert) supported his claims against the affiliated entities, but the court disagreed, ruling that the national bank retained interest in the loans, which included the right to “change various terms and conditions” as well as interest rates.

    Courts Credit Cards Usury Interest National Bank Act Madden

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  • State AGs challenge FDIC’s “valid-when-made” rule

    Courts

    On August 20, eight state attorneys general—from California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia—filed an action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California challenging the FDIC’s valid-when-made rule. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the FDIC’s final rule clarifies that, under the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (FDIA), whether interest on a loan is permissible is determined at the time the loan is made and is not affected by the sale, assignment, or other transfer of the loan (details on the effect of the rule can be found in Buckley’s Special Alert on the issuance of the OCC’s similar rule).

    In the complaint—which follows a similar action filed in July by three of the same attorneys general against the OCC for issuing a final rule designed to effectively reverse the Second Circuit’s 2015 Madden v. Midland Funding decision (previously covered here)—the attorneys general argue, among other things, that the FDIC does not have the power to issue the rule, asserting that the FDIC has the power to issue “‘regulations to carry out’ the provisions of the FDIA,” but not regulations that would apply to non-banks. Moreover, the attorneys general assert that the rule’s extension of state law preemption would “facilitate evasion of state law by enabling “rent-a-bank” schemes.” Finally, the complaint states that the FDIC failed to explain its consideration of evidence contrary to its assertions, including evidence demonstrating that “consumers and small businesses are harmed by high interest-rate loans, and thus that Madden is likely to have been beneficial rather than harmful.” The complaint requests the court to declare that the FDIC violated the Administrative Procedures Act in issuing the rule and hold the rule unlawful.

    Courts OCC Madden Interest Rate FDIC State Issues State Attorney General

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  • District court applies OCC’s valid-when-made final rule but raises true lender question

    Courts

    On August 12, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado reversed in part a bankruptcy court judgment, concluding that the OCC’s valid-when-made rule applied but that discovery was needed to determine whether a nonbank entity was the true lender. According to the opinion, a debtor corporation commenced an adversary proceeding against a creditor in their bankruptcy, alleging, among other things, that the interest rate of the underlying debt’s promissory note is usurious under Colorado law. The promissory note was executed between a Wisconsin state-charted bank and a Colorado-based corporation, with an interest rate of nearly 121 percent. The note included a choice of law provision dictating that federal law and Wisconsin law govern. A deed of trust, dictating that Colorado law (the property’s location) governs, was pledged as security on the promissory note and incorporated by referencing the terms of the note. Subsequently, the Wisconsin bank assigned its rights under the note and deed of trust to a nonbank entity registered in New York with a principal place of business in New Jersey. The bankruptcy court denied the debtor’s claims, concluding that the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act (DIDMCA) applied, which dictated the application of Wisconsin law, making the interest rate valid.

    On appeal, the district court applied the OCC’s valid-when-made rule (which was finalized in June and covered by a Buckley Special Alert), concluding that “a promissory note with an interest rate that was valid when made under DIDMCA § 1831d remains valid upon assignment to a non-bank.” However, the district court noted that DIDMCA § 1831d does not apply to promissory notes “with a nonbank true lender” and the parties did not “conduct discovery on the factual question of whether [the nonbank entity] was the true lender.” Thus, the court reversed and remanded to the Bankruptcy Court to determine whether the nonbank entity was the true lender.

    Courts OCC Bankruptcy Madden True Lender Interest Rate State Issues

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  • State AGs challenge OCC’s “valid-when-made” rule

    Courts

    On July 29, the California, Illinois, and New York attorneys general filed an action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California challenging the OCC’s valid-when-made rule, arguing the rule “impermissibly preempts state law.” As previously covered by a Buckley Special Alert, on June 2 the OCC issued a final rule designed to effectively reverse the Second Circuit’s 2015 Madden v. Midland Funding decision. The “true lender” rule provides that “[i]nterest on a loan that is permissible under [12 U.S.C. 85 for national bank or 12 U.S.C 1463(g)(1) for federal thrifts] shall not be affected by the sale, assignment, or other transfer of the loan.”

    The attorneys general argue in their complaint that the rule is “contrary to the plain language” of section 85 (and section 1463(g)(1)) and “contravenes the judgment of Congress,” which declined to extend preemption to non-banks. Moreover, the complaint asserts that the OCC disregarded congressional procedures for preemption by failing to perform a case-by-case review of state laws and not consulting with the CFPB before “preempting such a state consumer-protection law.” The attorneys general further contend that the OCC “failed to give meaningful consideration” to the commentary received regarding the rule essentially enabling “‘rent-a-bank’ schemes.” The result of the OCC’s actions, according to the attorneys general, is a rule that would allow “predatory lenders to evade state law by partnering with a federally chartered bank to originate loans exempt from state interest-rate caps.” These structures “have long troubled state law-enforcement efforts,” according to the complaint, and the rule will exacerbate these issues by “decreas[ing] licensing fees received by the States and increase[ing] the cost and burden of future supervisory, investigative, and law-enforcement efforts by the States.”

    The complaint requests the court declare that the OCC violated the Administrative Procedures Act in issuing the rule and hold the rule unlawful.

    Courts State Issues State Attorney General OCC Madden Fintech Interest Rate New York California Illinois

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  • OCC proposes True Lender rule

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On July 20, the OCC issued a proposed rule (see also Bulletin 2020-70) that addresses when a national bank or federal savings association (bank) is the “true lender” in the context of a partnership between a bank and a third party in order to clarify uncertainties about the legal framework that applies. Specifically, the proposed rule amends 12 CFR part 7 to state that “a bank makes a loan when, as of the date of origination, it (i) is named as lender in the loan agreement or (ii) funds the loan.” The OCC notes that the proposal intends to cover situations where the bank “has a predominant economic interest in the loan,” as the original funder, even if it is not “the named lender in the loan agreement as of the date of origination.”

    In response, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) issued a statement opposing the proposal, stating that “the true lender doctrine is and should remain a matter of state law.”

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, the OCC and the FDIC recently issued final rules clarifying that whether interest on a loan is permissible under federal law is determined at the time the loan is made and is not affected by the sale, assignment, or other transfer of the loan, effectively reversing the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s 2015 Madden v. Midland Funding decision. At the time, both agencies chose not to address the “true lender” issue.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC True Lender Valid When Made Madden CSBS State Issues FDIC

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  • FDIC follows OCC, adopts final rule addressing Madden

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On June 25, the FDIC issued a final rule clarifying that whether interest on a loan is permissible under the Federal Deposit Insurance Act is determined at the time the loan is made and is not affected by the sale, assignment, or other transfer of the loan. The FDIC’s final rule effectively reverses the Second Circuit’s 2015 Madden v. Midland Funding decision as applicable to state banks and follows the OCC’s issuance of a similar rule earlier this month for national charters. Specifically, the FDIC’s final rule states that, “[w]hether interest on a loan is permissible under section 27 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act is determined as of the date the loan was made. . . [and] shall not be affected by a change in State law, a change in the relevant commercial paper rate after the loan was made, or the sale, assignment, or other transfer of the loan, in whole or in part.” Additionally, the FDIC rule mirrors the OCC in specifying that the rule does “not address the question of whether a State bank. . .is a real party in interest with respect to a loan or has an economic interest in the loan under state law, e.g. which entity is the ‘true lender.’” Details on the effect of these rules can be found in Buckley’s Special Alert on the OCC’s issuance.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FDIC OCC Madden Interest Rate State Issues

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  • Acting Comptroller Brooks will focus on responsible innovation, fintech charters

    Federal Issues

    On May 29, Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian P. Brooks issued a statement focusing on four priorities intended to help meet the challenges facing banks today. As previously covered by InfoBytes, Brooks was named Acting Comptroller following the departure of former Comptroller Joseph Otting. These priorities include building upon responsible innovation to provide regulatory certainty, flexible frameworks, and oversight that will allow banks to “evolve and capitalize on technology and innovation to deliver better products and services, to operate more efficiently, and to reduce risk in the system.” Brooks reiterated that the OCC has the authority to issue bank charters to companies engaged in “the business of banking on a national scale, including taking deposits, lending money, or paying checks,” and emphasized that the OCC will work to “clarify what true lender means, to underscore that the terms of a lawfully made contract remain valid for the duration of that contract even if it is sold by a bank to another investor, and to specify what the parameters of the ‘fintech charter’ and other special purpose charters should be.” The same day the OCC issued a final rule (covered by a Buckley Special Alert), which establishes that when a bank transfers a loan, the interest rate permissible before the transfer will still be valid after the transfer.

    Among other topics, Brook also discussed the OCC’s recent issuance of a final rule to strengthen the Community Reinvestment Act (covered by a Buckley Special Alert), stating that the OCC will work to ensure that banks provide “fair access” to all customers and stressing that the agency “should not tolerate lawful entities being denied access to our federal banking system based on their popularity among a powerful few.”

    Federal Issues OCC Fintech Charter Madden CRA Interest Rate

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  • Special Alert: OCC adopts final rule addressing Madden

    Federal Issues

    On Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks’ first day in that role, the OCC issued a final rule designed to effectively reverse the Second Circuit’s 2015 Madden v. Midland Funding decision.[1] As published in yesterday’s Federal Register, the rule, titled “Permissible Interest on Loans that are Sold, Assigned, or Otherwise Transferred,” provides that “[i]nterest on a loan that is permissible under [12 U.S.C. 85 for national bank or 12 U.S.C 1463(g)(1) for federal thrifts] shall not be affected by the sale, assignment, or other transfer of the loan.” This rule contrasts with the Madden decision’s conclusion that a purchaser of a loan originated by a national bank could not charge interest at the rate permissible for the bank if that rate would be impermissible under the lower usury cap applicable to the purchaser. More specifically, the Madden court found that subjecting assignees to state usury law under these circumstances does not “significantly interfere” with the exercise of national bank powers -- the general preemption standard set forth in the Dodd Frank Act.[2]  

    Federal Issues Special Alerts OCC Madden Interest Rate Usury Fintech

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