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On March 18, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation issued a statement to financial institutions providing that it is open for business and ready to support state-chartered financial institutions. It also encourages financial institutions to work with affected customers and communities, and states that reasonable efforts to make new loans and modify the terms of existing loans of affected customers will not be subject to examiner criticism.
On March 12, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) issued guidance to executives of financial institutions. The guidance directs executive officers of financial institutions to determine whether an emergency exists requiring closure or modification of the operation of a financial institution for more than 48 hours. The guidance provides that the OFR will expeditiously process any requests for approval to modify or close any departments, sections, functions, offices, or facilities.
The Arkansas Securities Department (ASD) issued a statement providing that certain time constraints in statutes and rules that regulate the securities, non-depository mortgage lending, and money services industries may prevent or hinder the Department’s ability to render maximum assistance to the citizens of Arkansas while they are adhering to guidelines to prohibit the spread of disease. The statement provides that those statutes and rules administered by the Commissioner that have specific time constraints will be relaxed through April 16, 2020 when it is shown the need is related to Covid-19.
The Alabama Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, Division of Banking and Securities, issued a statement that Mortgage Broker-Lenders may require Mortgage Loan Originators (MLOs) to work from home to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and the Division will not take administrative or other punitive action against a licensed MLO or the sponsoring licensed company if the MLO conducts activities requiring licensure from home.
On March 16, the Alabama Governor issued a statement expressing confidence in the measures that financial institutions have put in place. The statement notes that Alabama banks are required to have business continuity plans in place to address emergency situations.
Covid-19 and its impact on the global economy is presenting new questions and challenges for financial services companies at an unprecedented pace. Federal, state, and local governments and industry groups are working quickly to issue new guidance in response. Buckley LLP has created a Covid-19 news and resources page that summarizes and catalogs this guidance on an ongoing basis.
We encourage you to bookmark this page as a one-stop resource. We will also continue to share updates on key developments in our weekly InfoBytes newsletter. As always, please get in touch with your usual contacts at Buckley for advice on how to modify business practices to respond to changing regulatory requirements and consumer circumstances.
On March 18, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proposed relief legislation which, among other things, would temporarily allow fintechs to offer “small business interruption loans” for as long as the Covid-19 national emergency is in effect. The “CARES Act” or Corornavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, would provide nearly $300 trillion in additional funds to the SBA in order to provide emergency government-backed loans. Under the proposal, small businesses eligible for the SBA Section 7(a) loans with 500 or fewer employees, could use the loans to fund, such things as (i) paid sick, medical, or family leave; (ii) group health care benefits; (iii) employee salaries; (iv) mortgage payments; and (v) utilities. In addition, the proposal provides for loan deferment for a year and loan forgiveness for loans used to cover payroll expenses.
On March 18, the Nevada Department of Business and Industry, Financial Institutions Division, ordered all non-essential businesses to close for 30 days as a proactive measure to fight the spread of Covid-19. Effective March 17, the Las Vegas Justice Court suspended issuing Defaults on all civil actions, suspended issuing orders for the examination of a judgment debtor, and suspended the issuance of any Writ of Execution. Any property garnished or attached after March 17, 2020, must be released back to the judgment debtor. The statement also states that a collection agency is deemed a non-essential business at this time. Accordingly, the Nevada Financial Institutions Division recommends to all collection agencies holding a license or registration under Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 649 to close for 30 days, unless otherwise modified or withdrawn by the Nevada governor.
On March 18, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) announced the issuance of emergency guidance on character and fitness requirements for all payday and licensed lenders doing business in Wisconsin. The DFI cautions payday and licensed lenders that increasing interest rates, fees, or any costs of borrowing in response to the Covid-19 crisis may result in license suspension or revocation. The emergency guidance also encourages the reduction of rates and fees “as low as operational expenses and sound lending practices allow.”
On March 18, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services circulated a notice to all Michigan consumer finance licensees and registrants requiring them to provide a summary of the actions that they have taken in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The notice provides a series of questions for licensees and registrants to include in their summaries. The deadline for submitting the summary is 5:00 p.m. on March 20 (slightly more than 48 hours from the issuance of the notice). The summary must be submitted via email to DIFS-OCFInquiriesandInfo@michigan.gov.
However, we understand from DIFS personnel that an in-depth response is not expected, and that the agency is primarily concerned with understanding licensees’ and registrants’ plans so that they can better address related inquiries from consumers.
On March 18, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered all trial courts to limit access to courtrooms and other spaces to no more than 10 persons, including staff, to practice social distancing, and to limit court activity to only essential functions, enumerated in the order.
- Hank Asbill to discuss "Critique of direct examination; Questions and answers" at the American Bar Association Section of Litigation Anatomy of a Trial: Murder Trial of Ziang Sung Wan
- Hank Asbill to discuss "What judges want from trial lawyers" at the American Bar Association Section of Litigation Anatomy of a Trial: Murder Trial of Ziang Sung Wan
- Benjamin W. Hutten to discuss "Understanding OFAC sanctions" at a NAFCU webinar
- Warren W. Traiger to discuss "Key takeaways from proposed CRA modernization" at the New York Bankers Association Technology, Compliance & Risk Management Forum
- Garylene D. Javier to discuss "Navigating workplace culture in 2020" at the DC Bar Conference