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On October 9, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) wrote to the ranking members of the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee with an update on the organization’s efforts regarding the CARES Act and oversight of nonbank mortgage servicers. CSBS notes that state regulators are the primary authority over nonbank mortgage servicers, and during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, the state regulators “identified liquidity as a supervisory priority.” Thus, according to CSBS, state regulators have been actively monitoring liquidity and other business operations by seeking real time data and other updates from nonbank mortgage servicers. Moreover, CSBS discusses the efforts made in response to the CARES Act, including consumer and servicer guidance issued in conjunction with the CFPB (covered by InfoBytes here and here), as well as examination procedure guidance. Lastly, the letter highlights the organization’s recent release of proposed regulatory prudential standards for nonbank mortgage servicers. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the proposal includes baseline standards that would apply to all covered servicers and enhanced standards—covering capital, liquidity, stress testing, and living will/recovery and resolution planning—that would apply to certain larger servicers. CSBS concludes the letter with a commitment for “continued coordination and information exchange with federal agencies.”
On October 1, the OCC’s Committee on Bank Supervision released its bank supervision operating plan (plan) for fiscal year 2021. The plan outlines the agency’s supervision priorities and highlights several supervisory focus areas including: (i) credit risk management; (ii) commercial and residential real estate concentration risk management, with a focus in areas heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic; (iii) allowances for loan and lease losses; (iv) cybersecurity and operational resiliency; (v) Bank Secrecy Act/anti-money laundering compliance; (vi) compliance risk management related to Covid-19-related bank activities; (vii) Community Reinvestment Act performance; (viii) fair lending examinations and risk assessments; (ix) LIBOR phase-out preparations; (x) oversight of significant third-party relationships; (xi) change management to address significant operational changes; and (xii) payment systems products and services. The plan will be used by OCC staff members to guide the development of supervisory strategies for individual national banks, federal savings associations, federal branches, federal agencies, and technology service providers.
The OCC will provide updates about these priorities in its Semiannual Risk Perspective, as InfoBytes previously has covered.
On September 15, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) announced the launch of a single, streamlined examination for money transmitters operating nationwide (i.e., in 40 or more states), known as “MSB Networked Supervision.” The single exam—which will apply to “78 of the nation’s largest payments and cryptocurrency companies”—will be led by one state overseeing a group of examiners sourced from around the country. MSB Networked Supervision is a result of recommendations from the CSBS Fintech Industry Advisory Panel and CSBS Vision 2020 (covered by InfoBytes here).
On September 4, the CFPB released its summer 2020 Supervisory Highlights, which details its supervisory and enforcement actions in the areas of consumer reporting, debt collection, deposits, fair lending, mortgage servicing, and payday lending. The findings of the report, which are published to assist entities in complying with applicable consumer laws, cover examinations that generally were completed between September and December of 2019. Highlights of the examination findings include:
- Consumer Reporting. The Bureau cited violations of the FCRA’s requirement that lenders first establish a permissible purpose before they obtain a consumer credit report. Additionally, the report notes instances where furnishers failed to review account information and other documentation provided by consumers during direct and indirect disputes. The Bureau notes that “[i]nadequate staffing and high daily dispute resolution requirements contributed to the furnishers’ failure to conduct reasonable investigations.”
- Debt Collection. The report states that examiners found one or more debt collectors (i) falsely threatened consumers with illegal lawsuits; (ii) falsely implied that debts would be reported to credit reporting agencies (CRA); and (iii) falsely represented that they operated or were employed by a CRA.
- Deposits. The Bureau discusses violations related to Regulation E and Regulation DD, including requiring waivers of consumers’ error resolution and stop payment rights and failing to fulfill advertised bonus offers.
- Fair Lending. The report notes instances where examiners cited violations of ECOA, including intentionally redlining majority-minority neighborhoods and failing to consider public assistance income when determining a borrower’s eligibility for mortgage modification programs.
- Mortgage Servicing. The Bureau cited violations of Regulation Z and Regulation X, including (i) failing to provide periodic statements to consumers in bankruptcy; (ii) charging forced-placed insurance without a reasonable basis; and (iii) various errors after servicing transfers.
- Payday Lending. The report discusses violations of the Consumer Financial Protection Act for payday lenders, including (i) falsely representing that they would not run a credit check; (ii) falsely threatening lien placement or asset seizure; and (iii) failing to provide required advertising disclosures.
The report also highlights the Bureau’s recently issued rules and guidance, including the various responses to the CARES Act and the Covid-19 pandemic.
On August 21, the FDIC announced a proposal to amend the agency’s Guidelines for Appeals of Material Supervisory Determinations (Guidelines) and establish a new, independent Office of Supervisory Appeals (Office) that would replace the current Supervision Appeals Review Committee. The new Office, which will have final authority to resolve appeals, would be independent from other divisions within the FDIC that have authority to issue material supervisory determinations. According to the release, to promote the Office’s independence, the FDIC intends to recruit externally and employ reviewing officials on a part-time or intermittent, time-limited basis. The proposal also includes modifications to the procedures and timeframes regarding when determinations underlying formal enforcement-related actions may be appealed.
Among other things, the proposal would update the Guidelines to clarify that for purposes of the supervisory appeals process, a formal enforcement-related action begins, and appeal rights are temporarily unavailable, when the FDIC: (i) initiates a formal investigation; (ii) issues a notice of charges or notice of assessment, as applicable; (iii) provides an institution with a draft consent order; or (iv) provides written notice stating “that the FDIC is reviewing the relevant facts and circumstances to determine whether a formal enforcement action is merited.” Under the proposal, should the FDIC provide written notice that it is determining whether a formal enforcement action is merited, the agency would be required to provide the institution with a draft consent order within 120 days, as well as an opportunity to engage in settlement negotiations. If the FDIC fails to provide the institution with a draft consent order within the initial 120-day period, supervisory appeal rights would become available to the institution. If a settlement is not reached, the FDIC would have 90 days to issue a notice of charges or assessment or open an order of investigation, or the institution’s supervisory appeal rights would be made available. In either case, once supervisory appeal rights are made available, the institution would have 60 days to file an appeal, which is consistent with the standard timeline for appealing a material supervisory determination. If the institution agrees to the consent order, “then the matter would be resolved and the need for an appeal would be obviated.”
If the proposal is adopted, institutions “would continue to be encouraged to make good-faith efforts to resolve disagreements with examiners or the appropriate regional office or division director.” However, if an institution is unable to resolve a disagreement regarding a material supervisory determination through such efforts, it would be able to appeal that determination to the Office.
Chairman Jelena McWilliams commented that the while the proposal retains several aspects of the existing appeals process—for example, the burden of proof on appeal will continue to rest with the institution—the “proposal seeks to establish a fair, independent process for a bank to appeal material supervisory decisions,” which is “key to promoting consistency among examiners across the country, ensuring accountability at the agency, and, ultimately, maintaining stability and public confidence in the nation’s financial system.” McWilliams added that she does not expect the proposed changes to result “in an avalanche of appeals.”
Comments on the proposal will be accepted until October 20.
On August 21, the FDIC approved a proposed statement of policy, which updates and clarifies the agency’s policies and procedures related to Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs). Among other things, the proposed statement of policy outlines the efforts the agency has undertaken and will continue to take to “preserve and promote” MDIs. Additionally, the proposal defines the program terms for technical assistance, training, educations, and outreach. Finally, the proposal includes a description of the FDIC’s examination rating system for MDIs. Comments on the proposal will be due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
On August 12, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations issued a risk alert to broker-dealers and investment advisers (firms) impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic addressing observations and recommendations related to several categories, including investor asset protection; personnel supervision; practices related to fees, expenses, and financial transactions; investment fraud; business continuity; and protecting sensitive information. The alert recommends firms review—and where appropriate—modify supervisory and compliance policies and procedures as they deal with market volatility and technological challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic. The alert notes that firms may need to update their practices to address, among other things, (i) unusual or unscheduled investor withdrawals; (ii) staffers communicating or executing transactions off-site or on personal devices, or making securities recommendations tied to market sectors experiencing high volatility or fraud; and (iii) supervisors having less oversight and interaction with staff in remote environments, leading to difficulties in maintaining effective due diligence, conducting background checks when hiring, or overseeing requisite examinations. Additionally, firms are instructed to monitor potential conflicts of interest and fee errors when informing investors about the costs of services, investment products, and related compensation, while also ensuring recommendations are made in the “best interest of investors.” The alert also recognizes that “times of crisis or uncertainty can create a heightened risk of investment fraud through fraudulent offerings,” and advises firms to “be cognizant of these risks when conducting due diligence on investments and in determining that the investments are in the best interest of investors.” Firms and investors who suspect fraud are advised to contact the SEC and report the potential fraud.
On July 24, the Federal Reserve Board issued a final rule revising its “Rules Regarding Availability of Information,” to update and clarify the Board’s regulations implementing the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the rules covering the disclosure of confidential supervisory information (CSI). The final rule, among other things, adopts standards consistent with the OCC’s rules, including (i) permitting supervised financial institutions to disclose CSI with their directors, officers, and employees “when necessary or appropriate for business purposes”; (ii) “permitting disclosures to the supervised financial institution’s outside legal counsel and auditors when the disclosures are ‘necessary or appropriate in connection with the provision of legal or auditing services’”; and (iii) “eliminat[ing] the requirement that supervised financial institutions obtain prior [Board] approval to disclose [CSI] to their other service providers, such as consultants, contractors, and contingent workers.” The final rule also updates definitions for expedited processing, clarifies terms, and helps users “more easily navigate the process of filing a FOIA request.” The final rule is effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
On July 6, the CFPB announced the launch of Consumer Financial Protection Week from July 14 through July 17. Over the course of four days, the Bureau is hosting or participating in multiple virtual events, including (i) a tutorial and overview of the HMDA data browser; (ii) a discussion on the Bureau’s supervisory and enforcement prioritized assessment approach; and (iii) a discussion on the Bureau’s Taskforce on Federal Consumer Financial Law.
On June 25, the Federal Reserve Board, CFTC, FDIC, OCC, and SEC (agencies) finalized the rule, which will amend the Volcker Rule to modify and clarify the regulations implementing Section 13 of the Bank Holding Company Act with respect to covered funds. As covered by InfoBytes in February, the agencies issued the proposed rule, and, after the notice and comment period, finalized the proposal with certain modifications based on the public comments. Among other things, the final rule (i) exempts qualifying foreign excluded funds from certain restrictions, but modifies the anti-evasion provision and compliance program requirements from the proposal; (ii) revises the exclusions from the covered fund provisions for foreign public funds, loan securitizations, and small business investment companies; (iii) adopts several new exclusions from the covered fund provisions, including an exclusion for venture capital funds, family wealth management, and customer facilitation vehicles; (iv) permits established, codified categories of limited low-risk transactions between a banking entity and a related fund; (v) provides an express safe harbor for senior loans and senior debt, and redefines “ownership interest”; and (vi) provides clarity regarding permissible investments in the same investments as a covered fund organized or offered by the same banking entity. The final rule is effective October 1.
The FDIC also released a Fact Sheet on the final rule.
- 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