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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • Agencies defeat states’ valid-when-made challenge

    On February 8, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted cross-motions for summary judgment in favor of the OCC and FDIC (see here and here), upholding their respective rules which clarify that interest charges that are permissible when a loan is originated “shall not be affected by the sale, assignment, or other transfer of the loan.” The judgments resolve lawsuits brought by several state attorneys general in 2020, challenging both the OCC’s final rule on “Permissible Interest on Loans that are Sold, Assigned, or Otherwise Transferred” (known also as the valid-when-made rule) and the FDIC’s final rule which clarified 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.

    In the OCC matter, the states’ argued that the agency’s valid-when-made rule (which effectively reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s 2015 Madden v. Midland Funding decision, and was covered by InfoBytes here) impermissibly preempts state law, 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 nonbanks. Moreover, the states contended that the OCC failed to give meaningful consideration to the commentary received regarding the rule, essentially enabling “‘rent-a-bank’ schemes.” The OCC countered that its rule does not preempt state law but rather “merely interprets” banks’ authority to charge interest. (Covered by InfoBytes here.) The court agreed with the OCC, holding that the OCC was interpreting the scope of 12 U.S.C. § 85, not determining whether to preempt state laws, and therefore was not required to follow the procedures set forth in 12 U.S.C. § 25b as the states alleged, including consulting with the CFPB. Applying the Chevron framework, the court upheld the OCC’s interpretations of the National Bank Act and Home Owners’ Loan Act. Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael J. Hsu issued a statement following the decision, in which he emphasized that while the court’s order “affirmed the validity of the OCC’s rule,” the “legal certainty should be used to the benefit of consumers and not be abused.” He added that the agency “is committed to strong supervision that expands financial inclusion and ensures banks are not used as a vehicle for ‘rent-a-charter’ arrangements.”

    In the FDIC matter, the states argued, among other things, that the FDIC did not have the power to issue the final rule under 12 U.S.C. § 1831d, and asserted that while the FDIC may issue “regulations to carry out” the provisions of the FDIA, it cannot issue regulations that would apply to nonbanks. The states also claimed that the rule’s extension of state law preemption would facilitate evasion of state law by enabling “rent-a-bank” schemes. The FDIC countered that the states’ arguments misconstrue the rule, which does not regulate nonbanks, does not interpret state law, and does not preempt state law. Rather, the FDIC argued that the rule clarifies the FDIA by “reasonably” filling in “two statutory gaps” surrounding banks’ interest rate authority. (Covered by InfoBytes here.) The court rejected the states’ argument that the FDIC exceeded its authority, and held that under Chevron, the agency’s interpretation of 12 U.S.C. § 1831d is not unreasonable. In upholding the FDIC’s interpretation, the court stated that the final rule “does not purport to regulate either the transferee’s conduct or any changes to the interest rate once a transaction is consummated.”

    Bank Regulatory Federal Issues Courts OCC FDIC Valid When Made Madden State Attorney General State Issues National Bank Home Owners' Loan Act Interest Rate

  • OCC announces charges, settlements with former executives on account openings

    Federal Issues

    On January 23, the OCC issued a notice of charges against five former senior executives for allegedly failing to adequately ensure a national bank’s incentive compensation plans regarding sales practices operated in accordance with bank policy. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.) The relief sought by the OCC against these individuals could include a lifetime prohibition from participating in the banking industry, a personal cease and desist order, and/or civil money penalties. Under federal law, the individuals may request a hearing to challenge the allegations and relief sought by the OCC. The same day, the OCC also announced settlements with the bank’s former chairman/CEO, its former chief administrative officer and director of corporate human resources, and its former chief risk officer for their alleged roles in the bank’s sales practices misconduct. According to the OCC, the actions serve to, among other things, reinforce the agency’s expectations that management and employees of regulated entities comply with applicable laws and regulations.

    Federal Issues OCC Incentive Compensation Consumer Finance Settlement Civil Money Penalties National Bank

  • Ohio Court of Appeals: Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act does not cover HELOC fraud


    On April 8, the Ohio Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for a bank, its employees, and the plaintiff’s former husband (collectively, “defendants”), concluding, among other things, that under the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act (OCSPA) the defendants could not be considered “suppliers,” transactions with national banks are not covered, and bank employees were not considered “loan officers.” According to the opinion, a homeowner filed a lawsuit alleging the defendants fraudulently opened a home equity line of credit by allowing the plaintiff’s former husband to sign the homeowner’s name with the bank employees’ assistance in notarizing the signature. The homeowner alleged various claims, including that the defendants violated the OCSPA’s provision prohibiting a “supplier” from committing “an unfair or deceptive act or practice in connection with a consumer transaction.” The lower court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The homeowner appealed, arguing that the bank employees were acting as “loan officers” and therefore, they qualified as “suppliers” under the OCSPA. The appellate court noted that while the term “supplier” does include “loan officer,” the statute explicitly states that “loan officer” does not include “an employee of a bank…organized under the laws of this state, another state, or the United States.” Moreover, the OCSPA provides that consumer transactions do not include transactions with financial institutions, except in certain circumstances, which are not applicable to the action. Therefore, the lower court did not err in its summary judgment ruling.

    Courts State Issues Fraud National Bank HELOC Appellate

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