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On September 29 and 30, EU and U.S. participants, including officials from the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve Board, CFTC, FDIC, SEC, and OCC, participated in the U.S. – EU Joint Financial Regulatory Forum to continue their ongoing financial regulatory dialogue. Matters discussed focused on six different themes: “(1) market developments and current assessment of financial stability risks, (2) sustainable finance, (3) multilateral and bilateral engagement in banking and insurance, (4) regulatory and supervisory cooperation in capital markets, (5) financial innovation, and (6) anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT).”
While acknowledging that both the EU and U.S. are experiencing “robust economic recoveries,” participants cautioned that the uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic outlook has not dissipated. “[C]ooperative international engagement to mitigate financial stability risks remains essential,” participants warned. Participants also explored issues concerning climate-related challenges for the financial sector and mandates for addressing climate-related financial risks, and touched upon the EU’s strategy for financing its transition to a sustainable economy. Regarding financial innovation, participants discussed potential central bank digital currencies and exchanged views on topics such as new types of digital payments, crypto-assets, and stablecoins, with all participants recognizing the “benefits of greater international supervisory cooperation” and “promot[ing] responsible innovation globally.” In addition, participants discussed progress made in strengthening their respective AML/CFT frameworks, “exchanged views on the opportunities and challenges arising from financial innovation in the AML/CFT area and explored potential areas for enhanced cooperation to combat money laundering and terrorist financing bilaterally and in the framework of [the Financial Action Task Force].”
On September 27, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) sent a letter to Ranking Member of the Senate Banking Committee Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) detailing state bank regulators’ role in supervising money transmission and virtual currencies, in addition to recommending an activities-based approach to regulation. The letter is in response to a request by Senator Toomey for input on the regulation of financial technologies earlier this year. In Senator Toomey’s August 26 letter, he requested collection of public comments on proposed legislative language, among other things, to regulate emerging technologies. The Senator also requested that each proposal have a brief description that includes “how it will encourage the growth of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology” in the U.S. According to the letter from CSBS, state bank regulators are encouraging “Congress and federal regulators to focus on the activities at issue and making clarifications in existing laws, regulations, and interpretations,” and believe that “[a]n activities-based approach must be performed with collaboration from all stakeholders or risk one regulatory view overextending into areas where it would hurt innovation and consumers.” CSBS also points out that the Money Transmission Modernization Act established a regulatory baseline and represents a critical step in enhancing multistate harmonization in the money transmission industry. CSBS further discussed Networked Supervision, a strengthened collaboration which permits states to operate as a network. According to the letter, earlier this year, CSBS approved public priorities, which highlighted efforts that states will take to advance Networked Supervision focused on money services businesses. CSBS states that these priorities “emphasize the states’ commitment to harmonization, collaboration, and innovation throughout the state regulatory system.”
Recently, the CFPB updated its Supervision and Examinations Manual to include a new section, Compliance Management Review – Information Technology, to assist examiners when assessing an institution and its service providers’ IT controls as part of a compliance management systems (CMS) review. All institutions under the Bureau’s supervision and enforcement authority are required to have a CMS adapted to its business strategy and operations. Among other things, the new CMS-IT examination manual outlines the following five modules: (i) Module 1: Board and Management Oversight; (ii) Module 2: Compliance Program; (iii) Module 3: Service Provider Oversight; (iv) Module 4: Violations of Law and Consumer Harm; and (v) Module 5: Examiner Conclusions and Wrap-Up. Each module addresses the examination objectives of the relevant policies and procedures, including those related to the oversight and commitment to an institution’s CMS, change management, risk management, self-identification and corrective action, and consumer complaint responses. The modules also discuss appropriate training, monitoring, and auditing of the various stages of an effective CMS program.
On September 13, the OCC issued a new Problem Bank Supervision booklet of the Comptroller's Handbook to be used by examiners in connection with the examination and supervision of national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches and agencies of foreign banking organizations. The booklet—the central reference for the OCC's problem bank supervision policy—describes the OCC’s approach to timely identification and rehabilitation of problem banks and replaces previously-issued guidance. Among other things, the booklet (i) discusses red flags that can indicate a potential problem bank; (ii) details the supervisory and enforcement approaches the OCC can take to rehabilitate a problem bank; (iii) provides a comprehensive discussion of the agency’s authority under 12 CFR 6, “Prompt Corrective Action”; and (iv) explains the process for problem bank resolution, including receivership. The booklet complements other Comptroller’s Handbook booklets as well as topical OCC and interagency issuances. The OCC also notes that the booklet “should be supplemented with appropriate examiner consultation with the supervisory office, subject matter experts, Licensing Division staff, and OCC legal counsel.”
On August 26, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) sent a letter to House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) detailing information on CSBS' response to the Covid-19 pandemic related to supervisory efforts, policy initiatives, and mortgage servicing plans. The letter is in response to an August 5th letter from Chairwoman Waters to CSBS, CFPB, OCC, NCUA, FDIC, and Fed asking the agencies, among other things, to immediately update the “Joint Statement on Supervisory and Enforcement Practices Regarding the Mortgage Servicing Rules in Response to the COVID-19 Emergency and the CARES Act dated April 3, 2020,” and to take other steps to “provide vigorous oversight and encourage mortgage servicers to work with borrowers to avoid unnecessary foreclosures.”
The letter from the CSBS detailed the consumer protection and supervision efforts of state regulators during the Covid-19 pandemic, noting that they have “monitored the activities of mortgage originators and servicers … and have acted responsively and decisively with expanded examination approaches, new policy, and public guidance.” The letter expanded on these actions by setting forth its efforts in “three very broad categories”: networked supervision, direct supervision, and supervision policy. In the latter two categories, CSBS noted the steps it has taken during the pandemic to “remain vigilant to signs of unwarranted foreclosure activity or other consumer harm.” The letter also agreed that the “states’ dual mandate to protect consumers and ensure a healthy economic environment has been the appropriate approach” during Covid-19.
On August 18, the OCC issued a new Model Risk Management booklet as part of the Comptroller’s Handbook’s safety and soundness series. The booklet is used by OCC examiners when examining and supervising national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches and agencies of foreign banking organizations. Among other things, the new booklet (i) outlines model risk management concepts and general principles; (ii) “informs and educates examiners about sound model risk management practices that should be assessed during an examination”; and (iii) “provides information needed to plan and coordinate examinations on model risk management, identify deficient practices, and conduct appropriate follow-up.” The booklet aligns with principals laid out in OCC Bulletin 2011-12 “Sound Practices for Model Risk Management: Supervisory Guidance on Model Risk Management.”
On August 16, the OCC released an annual update to its Bank Accounting Advisory Series (BAAS). Intended to address a variety of accounting topics and promote consistent application of accounting standards and regulatory reporting among OCC-supervised banks, the BAAS reflects updates to accounting standards issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board through March 31, 2021, related to, among other things, (i) the amortization of premiums on callable debt securities; and (ii) evaluating goodwill impairment triggering events for private companies. The 2021 edition also includes answers to frequently asked questions from industry and bank examiners. Additionally, the OCC notes that the BAAS does not represent OCC rules or regulations but rather “represents the Office of the Chief Accountant’s interpretations of generally accepted accounting principles and regulatory guidance based on the facts and circumstances presented.”
On August 16, the OCC issued Bulletin 2021-38 announcing the updated version of the Liquidity booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook. The booklet replaces the 2012 version and provides information and examination procedures on liquidity coverage ratio and net stable funding ratio requirements. Among other things, the revised booklet: (i) discusses risks associated with liquidity; (ii) reflects changes in regulations and relevant OCC issuances since 2012; and (iii) clarifies edits on supervisory guidance, sound risk management practices, and legal language.
On June 29, the CFPB released its summer 2021 Supervisory Highlights, which details its supervisory and enforcement actions in the areas of auto loan servicing, consumer reporting, debt collection, deposits, fair lending, mortgage origination and servicing, payday lending, private education loan origination, and student loan servicing. The findings of the report, which are published to assist entities in complying with applicable consumer laws, cover examinations that generally were completed between January and December of 2020. Highlights of the examination findings include:
- Auto Loan Servicing. Bureau examiners identified unfair acts or practices related to lender-placed collateral protection insurance (CPI), including instances where servicers charged unnecessary CPI or charged for CPI after repossession. Examiners also identified unfair acts or practices related to payoff amounts where consumers had ancillary product rebates due, and also found unfair or deceptive acts or practices related to payment application.
- Consumer Reporting. The Bureau found deficiencies in consumer reporting companies’ (CRCs) FCRA compliance related to the following requirements: (i) accuracy; (ii) security freezes applicable to certain CRCs; and (iii) ID theft block requests. Specifically, examiners found that CRCs continued to include information from furnishers despite receiving furnisher dispute responses that “suggested that the furnishers were no longer sources of reliable, verifiable information about consumers.” Additionally, the report noted instances where furnishers failed to update and correct information or conduct reasonable investigations of direct disputes.
- Debt Collection. The report found that examiners found instances of FDCPA violations where debt collectors (i) made calls to a consumer’s workplace; (ii) communicated with third parties; (iii) failed to stop communications after receiving a written request or a refusal to pay; (iv) harassed consumers regarding their inability to pay; (v) communicated, and threatened to communicate, false credit information to CRCs; (vi) made false representations or used deceptive collection means; (vii) entered inaccurate information regarding state interest rate caps into an automated system; (viii) unlawfully initiated wage garnishments; and (ix) failed to send complete validation notices.
- Deposits. The Bureau discussed violations related to Regulation E and Regulation DD, including error resolution violations, issues with provisional credits, failure to investigate, failure to remediate errors, and overdraft opt-in and disclosure violations.
- Fair Lending. The report noted instances where examiners cited violations of HMDA/ Regulation C involving HMDA loan application register inaccuracies, and instances where lenders, among other things, violated ECOA/Regulation B “by engaging in acts or practices directed at prospective applicants that would have discouraged reasonable people in minority neighborhoods in Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) from applying for credit.”
- Mortgage Origination. The Bureau cited violations of Regulation Z and the CFPA related to loan originator compensation, title insurance disclosures, and deceptive waivers of borrowers’ rights in security deed riders and loan security agreements.
- Mortgage Servicing. The Bureau cited violations of Regulation X, including those related to dual tracking violations, misrepresentations regarding foreclosure timelines, and PMI terminations.
- Payday Lending. The report discussed violations of the CFPA for payday lenders, including falsely representing an intent to sue or that a credit check would not be run, and presenting deceptive repayment options to borrowers that were contractually eligible for no-cost repayment plans.
- Private Education Loan Origination. Bureau examiners identified deceptive acts or practices related to the marketing of private education loan rates.
- Student Loan Servicing. Bureau examiners found several types of misrepresentations servicers made regarding consumer eligibility for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, and identified unfair acts or practices related to a servicer’s “failure to reverse negative consequences of automatic natural disaster forbearances.” Additionally, examiners identified unfair act or practices related to failing to honor consumer payment allocation instructions or providing inaccurate monthly payment amounts to consumers after a loan transfer.
The report also highlights recent supervisory program developments and enforcement actions.
On June 25, the FDIC announced PR-58-2021, which outlines a modified approach to implementing its rule requiring insured depository institutions (IDIs) with $100 billion or more in total assets (CIDIs) to submit resolution plans under the Federal Deposit Insurance Act. Among other things, the modified approach extends the resolution plan’s submission frequency to a three-year cycle and lays out new details regarding the FDIC’s emphasis on engagement with firms. The new approach “exempts filers from other content requirements that have been less useful or are obtainable through other supervisory channels.” In addition, on a case-by-case basis, the FDIC plans to “expressly exempt certain content requirements based on the FDIC’s evaluation of how useful or material the information would be in planning to resolve the specified CIDI.” Resolution plans will be submitted in two groups. The first group will contain IDIs whose top tier parent company is not regarded as a U.S. global systemically important bank or a category II banking organization. The second group encompass all other IDIs with $100 billion or more in total assets. For institutions with less than $100 billion in total assets, the moratorium on submission of IDI plans announced in November 2018 remains in effect.
- 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
- 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)
- 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