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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • CA approves commercial financing disclosure regs

    State Issues

    On June 9, the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation’s (DFPI) proposed commercial financial disclosure regulations. The regulations implement commercial financing disclosure requirements under SB 1235 (Chapter 1011, Statutes of 2018). (See also DFPI press release here.) As previously covered by InfoBytes, in 2018, California enacted SB 1235, which requires non-bank lenders and other finance companies to provide written, consumer-style disclosures for certain commercial transactions, including small business loans and merchant cash advances.

    Notably, SB 1235 does not apply to (i) depository institutions; (ii) lenders regulated under the federal Farm Credit Act; (iii) commercial financing transactions secured by real property; (iv) a commercial financing transaction in which the recipient is a vehicle dealer, vehicle rental company, or affiliated company, and meets other specified requirements; and (v) a lender who makes no more than one applicable transaction in California in a 12-month period or a lender who makes five or fewer applicable transactions that are incidental to the lender’s business in a 12-month period. The act also does not cover true leases (but will apply to bargain-purchase leases), commercial loans under $5,000 (which are considered consumer loans in California regardless of any business-purpose and subject to separate disclosure requirements), and commercial financing offers greater than $500,000.

    California released four rounds of draft proposed regulations between 2019 and 2021 to solicit public comments on various iterations of the proposed text (covered by InfoBytes here). In conjunction with the approved regulations, DFPI released a final statement of reasons that outlines specific revisions and discusses the agency’s responses to public comments.

    Among other things, the regulations:

    • Clarify that a nondepository institution providing technology or support services to a depository institution’s commercial financing program is not required to provide disclosures, provided “the nondepository institution has no interest, or arrangement or agreement to purchase any interest in the commercial financing extended by the depository institution in connection with such program, and the commercial financing program is not branded with a trademark owned by the nondepository institution.”
    • Provide detailed instructions for the content and layout of disclosures, including specific rows and columns that must be used for a disclosure table and the terms that must appear in each section of the table, that are to be delivered at the time a specific type of commercial financing offer equal to or less than $500,000 is extended.
    • Cover the following commercial loan transactions: closed-end transactions, commercial open-end credit plans, factoring transactions, sales-based financing, lease financing, asset-based lending transactions. Disclosure formatting and content requirements are also provided for all other commercial financing transactions that do not fit within the other categories.
    • Require disclosures to provide, among other things, the amount financed; itemization of the amount financed; annual percentage rate (the regulations provide category-specific calculation instructions); finance charges (estimated and total); payment methods, including the frequency and terms for both variable and fixed rate financing; details related to prepayment policies; and estimated loan repayment terms.

    The regulations take effect December 9.

    State Issues State Regulators Agency Rule-Making & Guidance DFPI California Disclosures Commercial Finance Nonbank

  • CFPB invokes dormant authority to examine nonbanks

    Federal Issues

    On April 25, the CFPB announced it was invoking a “dormant authority” under the Dodd-Frank Act to conduct supervisory examinations of fintech firms and other nonbank financial services providers based upon a determination of risk. “This authority gives us critical agility to move as quickly as the market, allowing us to conduct examinations of financial companies posing risks to consumers and stop harm before it spreads,” CFPB Director Rohit Chopra explained. The Bureau has direct supervisory authority over banks and credit unions with more than $10 billion in assets, certain nonbanks regardless of size that offer or provide consumer financial products or services, and the service providers for such entities. With this announcement, the Bureau now plans to use a provision under Section 1024 of Dodd-Frank that allows it to examine nonbank financial entities, upon notice and an opportunity to respond, if it has “reasonable cause” to determine that consumer harm is possible.

    In tandem with the announcement, the Bureau also issued a request for public comment on an updated version of a procedural rule that implements its statutory authority to supervise nonbanks “whose activities the CFPB has reasonable cause to determine pose risks to consumers,” including potentially unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices. The statute requires that the Bureau “base such reasonable cause determinations on complaints collected by the CFPB, or on information from other sources,” which the Bureau stated may include “judicial opinions and administrative decisions, . . . whistleblower complaints, state partners, federal partners, or news reports.” “Given the rapid growth of consumer offerings by nonbanks, the CFPB is now utilizing a dormant authority to hold nonbanks to the same standards that banks are held to,” Chopra stated.

    Among other things, the new rule establishes a disclosure mechanism intended to increase transparency of the Bureau’s risk-determination process. Specifically, the new rule will exempt final decisions and orders by the CFPB director from being considered confidential supervisory information, allowing the Bureau to publish the decisions on their website. Subject companies will be given an opportunity seven days after a final decision is issued to provide input on what information, if any, should be publicly released. According to the Bureau, there “is a public interest in transparency when it comes to these potentially significant rulings by the Director as head of the agency. Also, if a decision or order is publicly released, it would be available as a precedent in future proceedings.”

    The procedural rule is effective upon publication in the Federal Register and has a 30-day comment period.

    Federal Issues Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB Nonbank Examination Dodd-Frank Fintech Consumer Finance UDAAP

  • Chopra: Large repeat offenders should face tougher consequences

    Federal Issues

    On March 28, CFPB Director Rohit Chopra warned that large, dominant banks and firms that repeatedly break the law “should be subject to the same consequences of enforcement actions as small firms.” Speaking before the University of Pennsylvania Law School as the 2022 Distinguished Lecturer on Regulation, Chopra told attendees that the current “double-standard” enforcement approach needs to end, and that the Bureau intends to establish dedicated units within its supervision and enforcement divisions to detect repeat offenders and corporate recidivists “to better hold them accountable.” This may mean that insured depository institutions lose access to federal deposit insurance or are put directly into receivership, Chopra stated, explaining that “[r]epeat offenses and, in particular, order violations, may be a sign that an institution’s condition or behavior is unsafe and unsound.”

    Pointing out that penalties become meaningless if regulators are not willing to enforce them, Chopra stated that the Bureau needs “to move away from just monetary penalties and consider an arsenal of options that really work to stop repeat offenses.” To address this, Chopra outlined a new set of “bright-line structural remedies, rather than press-driven approaches” that the Bureau will consider when it discovers large entities are repeatedly committing the same types of violations. These include: (i) imposing limits or caps on size or growth; (ii) banning certain types of business practices; (iii) forcing companies to divest certain product lines; (iv) placing limitations on leverage or requirements to raise equity capital; and (v) revoking government granted privileges. Additionally, with respect to licensed nonbank institutions of all sizes that repeatedly violate the law, Chopra indicated that the Bureau will deepen its collaboration with state licensing officials to allow states to determine whether to suspend licenses or liquidate assets.

    Chopra also raised the prospect of targeting individuals. “Agency and court orders bind officers and directors of the corporation, and so do the laws themselves, so there are multiple ways in which individuals are held accountable. Where individuals play a role in repeat offenses and order violations, it may be appropriate for regulatory agencies and law enforcers to charge these individuals and disqualify them. Dismissal of senior management and board directors, and lifetime occupational bans should also be more frequently deployed in enforcement actions involving large firms.” Chopra emphasized that “[w]hen it comes to individuals, we also need to pay close attention to executive compensation incentives. Important remedies for restoring law and order may include clawbacks, forfeitures, and other changes to executive compensation, including where we tie up compensation for longer periods of time and use that deferred compensation as the first pot of money to pay fines.”

    Federal Issues CFPB Enforcement Civil Money Penalties Nonbank State Issues

  • Financial Stability Board informs G20 of 2022 priorities

    Federal Issues

    On February 14, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) sent a letter to the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors outlining several priorities for 2022 and setting the groundwork for promoting global financial resilience during the upcoming year. The FSB stated that the “transition path to a post-pandemic economy remains highly uncertain,” and warned that Covid-19 continues to weigh on the global economy with “[n]ew waves of infections … contribut[ing] to an uneven recovery across regions, higher inflation, and record-high debt levels globally.” The FSB also observed that, while banks and financial market infrastructures were able to absorb the macroeconomic shock of the pandemic, the nonbank financial intermediation sector (NBFI), which currently represents nearly half of global financial assets, experienced acute stress and needs to be strengthened. A resilient NBFI sector would reduce the need for extraordinary central bank intervention, the FSB stated. The FSB’s plans include prioritizing its work in this space in coordination with other standard-setting bodies to address any shortcomings and develop a systemic approach to the NBFI sector. Another priority is addressing potential financial stability risks associated with rapidly developing crypto-assets and digital innovation. The FSB observed that “[c]rypto-asset markets are fast-evolving and could reach a point where they represent a threat to global financial stability due to their scale, structural vulnerabilities and increasing interconnectedness with the traditional financial system.” Financial risks resulting from climate change are another critical area of concern for the FSB. The FSB’s work this year will include ensuring these risks are properly reflected in all financial decisions related to disclosures, data, vulnerabilities analysis, and regulatory and supervisory approaches.

    Federal Issues FSB Of Interest to Non-US Persons G20 Covid-19 Climate-Related Financial Risks Fintech Nonbank

  • CBA urges CFPB to supervise nonbank small business lenders

    Federal Issues

    On February 9, the Consumer Bankers Association (CBA) sent CFPB Director Rohit Chopra a letter regarding the supervision of nonbank small business lenders. The letter noted that the landscape for business lending has recently altered “substantially,” specifically with the alternative banking options offered by financial technology companies having “significant market share.” The letter considered small businesses to be “vulnerable” because the activities of fintechs engaged in small business lending are not supervised by the Bureau. The letter urged the Bureau to “evaluate all possible avenues for supervising these nonbank small business lenders, including adding nonbank small business lending to the larger participant rule.” The letter also pointed out that the “lack of supervisory authority over nonbank small business lenders” undermines the CFPB’s other regulatory efforts, such as identifying and addressing fair lending concerns through a final rule covering small business lending data collection pursuant to Section 1071 of Dodd-Frank. The CBA argued that the absence of authority over nonbank lenders “will negatively impact the accuracy and utility of any data the Bureau receives under a Section 1071 final rule.” The CBA also advised the Bureau to utilize its ability under 12 U.S.C. Section 5514 to increase its authority over larger participants in the small business lending market.

    Federal Issues CFPB Nonbank Small Business Lending Nonbank Lending Fair Lending Dodd-Frank Section 1071

  • FSOC reports on NBFIs

    Federal Issues

    On February 4, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) released a statement regarding nonbank financial intermediation. According to the statement, FSOC received updates on progress over the past year regarding three types of nonbank financial institutions (NBFIs), which include hedge funds, open-end funds, and money market funds (MMF). The statement noted that FSOC reestablished its Hedge Fund Working Group in 2021, with the primary objective of providing updates to FSOC’s “assessment of potential risks to U.S. financial stability from hedge funds, their activities, and their interconnections with other market participants.” FSOC “supports the Hedge Fund Working Group’s recommendation that the Office of Financial Research (OFR) consider ways to obtain better data on the uncleared bilateral repurchase agreement market, an important source of leverage for hedge funds.” In 2021, FSOC also established an interagency staff-level Open-end Fund Working Group, which assessed potential risks to U.S. financial stability arising from open-end funds. FSOC noted that it “supports the Open-end Fund Working Group’s continued analysis of the potential risks to financial stability that may arise from liquidity transformation at open-end funds.” In respect to MMF, FSOC noted that it supports the SEC’s efforts to reform MMFs and strengthen short-term funding markets. 

    Federal Issues FSOC Department of Treasury Nonbank

  • Treasury requests comments on certain nonbanks

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On January 28, the U.S. Treasury Department published a notice and request for comment in the Federal Register on the proposed information collection “Determinations Regarding Certain Nonbank Financial Companies.” According to the notice, “information collected in § 1310.20 from state and federal regulatory agencies and from nonbank financial companies will be used generally by the [Financial Stability Oversight Council] to carry out its duties under Title I of the Dodd-Frank Act.” Additionally, “[t]he collections of information in §§ 1310.21, 1310.22 and 1310.23 provide an opportunity for a nonbank financial company to request a hearing or submit written materials to the Council concerning whether, in the company’s view, material financial distress at the company, or the nature, scope, size, scale, concentration, interconnectedness, or mix of the activities of the company, could pose a threat to the financial stability of the United States.” Comments are due March 29.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Department of Treasury Nonbank Federal Register

  • CSBS drops suit against OCC fintech charter after revised application

    State Issues

    On January 13, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) announced that it has withdrawn its complaint challenging the OCC’s Special Purpose National Bank (SPNB) Charters and a financial services provider’s application for an OCC nonbank charter. CSBS filed a notice of voluntary dismissal without prejudice in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia asking the court to close the case. According to its press release, CSBS voluntarily took this action after the company, which had previously filed an application for an OCC SPNB charter, “amended its application to include seeking FDIC deposit insurance, thus complying with the legal requirement that national banks obtain federal deposit insurance before operating as a bank.”

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, CSBS filed a complaint in December 2020, to oppose the OCC’s potential approval of the company’s SPNB charter application. CSBS argued that the company was applying for the OCC’s nonbank charter, which was invalidated by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in October 2019 (the court concluded that the OCC’s SPNB charter should be “set aside with respect to all fintech applicants seeking a national bank charter that do not accept deposits,” covered by InfoBytes here). At the time, CSBS argued that “by accepting and imminently approving” the company’s application, the “OCC has gone far beyond the limited chartering authority granted to it by Congress under the National Bank Act (NBA) and other federal banking laws,” as the company is not engaged in the “business of banking.” CSBS sought to, among other things, have the court declare the agency’s nonbank charter program unlawful and prohibit the approval of the company’s charter under the NBA without obtaining FDIC insurance.

    OCC acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael J. Hsu issued a statement following the withdrawal of the legal challenge. “We must modernize the regulatory perimeter as a prerequisite to conducting business as usual with firms interested in novel activities. Modernizing the bank regulatory perimeter cannot be accomplished by simply defining the activities that constitute ‘doing banking,’ but will also require determining what is acceptable activity to be conducted in a bank. Consolidated supervision will help ensure risks do not build outside of the sight and reach of federal regulators.”

    State Issues Courts CSBS OCC Fintech Bank Regulatory Bank Charter National Bank Act Nonbank FDIC

  • District Court dismisses PPP putative class action against nonbank


    On November 24, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California dismissed, with prejudice, a putative class action alleging that a nonbank lender prioritized high-dollar Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan applicants. The plaintiff’s complaint—which alleged claims of fraudulent concealment, fraudulent deceit, unfair business practices, and false advertising—claimed, among other things, that the lender (i) was not licensed to make loans in California when she applied; (ii) did not have adequate funding to make the loans; and (iii) advertised it would process loan requests on a first-come, first-served basis, but actually prioritized favored customers and higher-value loans that yielded higher lending fees. The court granted the lender’s motion to dismiss. According to the court, the plaintiff’s allegation that the parties were “transacting business in order to enter into a contractual, borrower-lender relationship” was not supported by any facts, and that while the plaintiff claimed she submitted a PPP loan application to the lender, a confirmation e-mail from the lender did not mention a submitted application—only a loan request. “This court cannot, therefore, assume the truth of Plaintiff’s allegation that she submitted a loan application, let alone her conclusory allegation that the parties entered into a borrower-lender relationship or engaged in any other transaction,” the court stated. The court also determined that the plaintiff’s fraudulent deceit claim failed because her allegation, made on information and belief, that the lender prioritized large loans had no factual foundation, and the plaintiff failed to plead the elements of that claim.

    Courts Covid-19 Small Business Lending SBA Class Action CARES Act Nonbank State Issues California

  • CFPB sues pawn lenders for MLA violations

    Federal Issues

    On November 12, the CFPB filed a complaint against a Texas-based pawn lender and its wholly owned subsidiary (together, “lenders”) for allegedly violating the Military Lending Act (MLA) by charging active-duty servicemembers and their dependents more than the allowable 36 percent annual percentage rate on pawn loans. According to the Bureau, between June 2017 and May 2021, the two lenders together allegedly made more than 3,600 pawn loans carrying APRs that “frequently exceeded” 200 percent to more than 1,000 covered borrowers. The Bureau further claimed that the lenders failed to make all loan disclosures required by the MLA and forced borrowers to waive their ability to sue. The identified 3,600 pawn loans only represent a limited period for which the Bureau has transactional data, the complaint stated, adding that the pawn stores located in Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Washington that originated these loans only comprise roughly 10 percent of the Texas lender’s nationwide pawn-loan transactions. As such, that Bureau alleged that the lenders—together with their other wholly owned subsidiaries—made additional pawn loans in violation of the MLA from stores in these and other states. The Bureau seeks injunctive relief, consumer restitution, disgorgement, civil money penalties, and other relief, including a court order enjoining the lenders from collecting on the allegedly illegal loans and from selling or assigning such debts.

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Bureau issued a prior consent order against an affiliated lender in 2013, which required the payment of $14 million in consumer redress and a $5 million civil money penalty. The affiliated lender was also ordered to cease its MLA violations. In its current action, the Bureau noted that because the Texas lender (who was not identified in the 2013 action) is a successor to the prior affiliated lender, it is therefore subject to the 2013 order. Accordingly, the Bureau alleged that the Texas lender’s violations of the MLA also violated the 2013 order.

    Federal Issues CFPB Enforcement Military Lending Military Lending Act Consumer Finance Interest Rate APR Nonbank CFPA Servicemembers


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