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The Minnesota Commerce Department released a statement encouraging financial institutions to work with customers affected by Covid-19. In particular, the Department encourages institutions to take various actions, including: waiving fees such as ATM, overdraft, and late fees; increasing ATM daily cash withdrawal limits; easing restrictions on cashing checks; increasing credit card limits for creditworthy borrowers; offering payment accommodations like forbearances; and easing terms for new loans to affected borrowers. Separately, the Department affirmed that it will consider these circumstances when reviewing an institution’s financial condition, and in working with institutions that encounter difficulty meeting regulatory reporting requirements or filing requirements for financial statements.
Minnesota issues executive order suspending evictions and writs of recovery, requesting moratorium on foreclosures
On March 23, the Minnesota governor issued an executive order suspending evictions and writs of recovery during the Covid-19 pandemic. The order also requests that financial institutions holding home mortgages implement an immediate moratorium on all pending and future foreclosures and related evictions when the foreclosure or foreclosure-related eviction is caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Financial institutions are also strongly urged not to impose late fees or other penalties for late mortgage payments related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The executive order will remain in effect until the declared emergency is terminated or rescinded.
On March 17, the Minnesota Commerce Department issued a letter to Minnesota industrial loan and thrift companies related to issues and questions arising from the Covid-19 outbreak. The letter notes that companies that choose to close a branch such that it is not open for business or examination purposes must notify the Department. The notice must include certain information, such as when the company expects to reopen the branch. The letter also provides that if a branch is opening and closing loans, employees can work from home to perform tasks, but may not close loans from an unlicensed location.
On February 19, the Minnesota House Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee introduced a bill that would require the Commissioner of Commerce to negotiate with credit reporting bureaus to waive negative credit reports, and to negotiate a federal waiver for federally guaranteed student loans for persons under isolation or quarantine.
On March 9, the Minnesota Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee introduced a bill that would accomplish the same objectives.
On March 17, the Minnesota Commerce Department issued guidance to mortgage originators and servicers outlining the process for temporarily or permanently closing branch offices in Minnesota. For permanent closures, a licensee should file a surrender through NMLS. For temporary closures, the licensee should notify the Department. In addition, if the licensee has individual MLOs working from a home office, they must not have consumers come to the unlicensed location, and the company’s data security standards should be maintained. No physical records should be maintained at the unlicensed location.
On March 16, the Minnesota Commerce Department issued guidance for credit unions considering delaying or rescheduling their annual meetings because of Covid-19. The Department instructs credit unions to consult their bylaws for requirements on meeting timing, noting that Bylaws adopted prior to 2018 will require that annual meetings be scheduled prior to May 31. The guidance continues to instruct credit unions to provide as much notice as possible to members regarding date changes as possible and to notify the Department if a decision to reschedule must be made in the best interests of members and employees that does not comply with bylaws.
On March 13, the Minnesota Commerce Department released guidance to licensed collection agencies granting permission for individual debt collectors to work from home, even where the residence is not a licensed branch location. The collection agencies should ensure that no activity will be conducted in person with members of the public from the home location, the licensee must “at all times exercise supervision of the activity being performed” at the home office, and ensure there are the appropriate safeguards to protect consumer data and information. The guidance is effective through April 30.
On March 12, the Minnesota Commerce Department issued guidance on emergency closures for banks, and a similar guidance for credit unions. In an emergency (including for Covid-19 or other pandemic, related conditions), officers have the authority to decide not to open or to close an already open office, but prior approval is needed for closures lasting more than 48 hours, excluding legal holidays. The Department should be notified of closures as soon as practical. On March 17, the Department issued a clarification that a bank is not considered closed if it elects to close the lobby but maintains drive-through service or if the lobby is open (i.e., not by appointment-only basis) but not immediately accessible due to locked doors.
- 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