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On May 27, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston posted the necessary legal forms and agreements for eligible borrowers and eligible lenders to participate in the Main Street Lending Program on their website. The documents include, among other things, lender registration certifications and covenants, lender wire instructions, loan participation agreements, and servicing agreements. The Boston Fed has also updated the Main Street Lending Program’s FAQs.
On May 27, the Small Business Administration (SBA) in consultation with the Treasury Department issued an update to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Frequently Asked Questions to reflect the extension of the safe harbor deadline from May 14 to May 18. The SBA recently issued an interim final rule (IFR) to supplement the CARES Act and extend, for the second time, the PPP safe harbor for repayment from May 14 to May 18, to allow borrowers to avail themselves of a safe harbor with respect to the certification required by the CARES Act. The IFR also codifies the timeframe extension for submission of the initial SBA Form 1502 report for PPP loans. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the new timeframe for submission of Form 1502 is the later of (i) May 29, or (ii) 10 calendar days after disbursement or cancellation of the PPP loan.
On May 21, the SBA recently published an interim final rule (IFR), which addresses the eligibility requirements related to employees of a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) borrower’s foreign affiliates. The SBA reiterated in the IFR that a small business must include foreign affiliate employees when calculating how many people it employs for purposes of determining if the business meets the PPP eligibility requirement of 500 or fewer employees. The SBA acknowledged, however, that previous guidance (covered by InfoBytes here) may have created “reasonable borrower confusion,” so in “an exercise of enforcement discretion,” the agency reiterated that the “SBA will not find any borrower that applied for a PPP loan prior to May 5, 2020 to be ineligible based on the borrower’s exclusion of non-US employees from the borrower’s calculation of its employee headcount if the borrower (together with its affiliates) had no more than 500 employees whose principal place of residence is in the United States.” The SBA further determined that these borrowers will “not be deemed to have made an inaccurate certification of eligibility solely on that basis.”
The IFR takes effect upon publication in the Federal Register and is applicable to PPP applications submitted through June 30, 2020, or when program funding is exhausted. Comments are due within 30 days.
On May 20, several senators, including Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), sent a letter to CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger requesting information regarding the Bureau’s examination of companies that service student loans guaranteed by the federal government. The senators noted that they are “encouraged to learn that the CFPB recently began its first examination of a servicer of federally-held student loans since 2017,” but they stated that, given the Department’s “record [of] obstructing CFPB oversight and enforcement, [they] are skeptical of the Department’s role in this joint examination and would strongly oppose limitations, restrictions, or other interference with the CFPB’s ability to conduct complete and thorough examinations.” Among other things, the senators also expressed concerns that the Bureau and the Department have not yet finalized the Supervisory Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which would allow the Bureau to access student borrower loan data that the senators claim is necessary for the Bureau to conduct future examinations. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the agencies signed an MOU to share student loan complaint data last February. The senators requested clarification on measures the Bureau is taking to carry out its statutory mandate to oversee the federal student loan market, including (i) how many examinations the Bureau has planned for 2020; (ii) what progress, if any, has been made on reestablishing the supervisory MOU; (iii) how the Bureau is monitoring student loan servicers’ compliance with the CARES Act, including pausing payments, interest, and collection; and (iv) whether the Bureau has identified any trends in borrower complaints since the Covid-19 pandemic began. The senators asked that the Bureau respond to the questions by June 3.
On May 19, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs conducted a hearing with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin to discuss the agencies’ efforts to implement the CARES Act relief provisions to support consumers and help stabilize the infrastructure of the economic system. Topics discussed included emergency lending facilities, such as the Main Street Lending Program and the Municipal Liquidity Facility, as well as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Payroll Support Program.
Mnuchin testified that Treasury has “worked closely with the Small Business Administration on the [PPP] to ensure the processing of more than 4.2 million loans for over $530 billion[.]” He issued praise for the nearly 400 Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions, as well as the many small and non-bank lenders that are participating in the program. Mnuchin noted that, while Treasury has already committed up to $195 billion of the $500 billion provided by Congress, the agency plans to use the remainder to create or expand programs as necessary after determining how best to deploy the money to help losses associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. “The only reason I have not allocated it fully is we are just starting to get these facilities up and running,” Mnuchin emphasized during the hearing. “We want to have a better idea as to which one of the facilities needs more capital as well as the potential for adding additional facilities.” Mnuchin also stated that Treasury is “fully prepared to take losses in certain scenarios on that capital.”
Powell discussed lending programs and monetary policy efforts taken by the Fed under section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act since the pandemic started, including measures to help stabilize short-term funding markets. These include lengthening the term and lowering the rate on discount window loans to depository institutions, and—together with Treasury—establishing the Commercial Paper Funding Facility and the Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility. Powell also discussed the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, which will lend against asset-backed securities “backed by newly issued auto loans, credit card loans, and other consumer and small business loans.” Powell stressed that “public input has been crucial” in the agency’s development of these facilities and that additional adjustments may occur “as we learn more” about the needs of potential borrowers.
Maryland regulator reminds student loan servicers of obligation to report suspended payments as current
On May 18, the Office of the Maryland Commissioner of Financial Regulation issued an advisory to student loan servicers and credit reporting agency registrants to remind them of their furnishing obligations under the federal CARES Act to ensure that suspended payments are not reported as delinquent. The advisory notes that it has come to the office’s attention that a student loan servicer of a significant amount of federal student loan debt was not accurately furnishing information and reminds servicers that under Maryland’s Student Loan Servicing Bill of Rights, it is a violation of Maryland law to knowing or recklessly provide inaccurate information or refuse to correct it.
On May 15, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit denied the SBA’s emergency motion for a stay of the district court’s injunction against the agency’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Ineligibility Rule. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the district court granted a preliminary injunction against the SBA’s PPP Ineligibility Rule—which, in relevant part, excludes from PPP loan eligibility “sexually oriented businesses that present entertainment or sell products of a ‘prurient’ (but not unlawful) nature.” The district court concluded that the Rule was in conflict with the Congressional purpose of the CARES Act, which houses the PPP, to protect workers in need during the Covid-19 pandemic, including workers for businesses that have been historically excluded from SBA financial assistance.
The 6th Circuit agreed with the district court, denying the motion for a stay. The court noted that the CARES Act specifies that eligibility “is conferred on ‘any business concern,’” which “encompasses sexually oriented businesses.” It went on to state that “the public interest is served in guaranteeing that any business, including plaintiffs, receive loans to protect and support their employees during the pandemic.”
In dissent, one judge argued that it is “unclear whether Congress meant that any business concern was eligible for a PPP loan regardless of SBA restrictions,” and therefore, the injunction should be stayed pending a decision on the merits.
On May 15, the Small Business Administration (SBA) in consultation with the Treasury Department announced the release of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application that borrowers must complete in order to have their loans forgiven at the conclusion of the eight-week covered period, which begins upon loan disbursement. The application provides specific instructions, including several measures designed to reduce compliance burdens and simplify the process. These include: (i) “[o]ptions for borrowers to calculate payroll costs using an ‘alternative payroll covered period’ that aligns with borrowers’ regular payroll cycles”; (ii) the flexibility to count any eligible payroll and non-payroll expenses paid or incurred during the eight-week period after the disbursement of a borrower’s PPP loan; (iii) clear instructions on how to perform calculations to confirm eligibility for loan forgiveness as required by the CARES Act; (iv) a safe harbor from forgiveness reduction for borrowers that were able to rehire employees by June 30; and (v) the addition of a new exemption from forgiveness reduction “for borrowers who have made a good-faith, written offer to rehire workers that was declined[.]” The SBA announced it “will also soon issue regulations and guidance to further assist borrowers as they complete their applications, and to provide lenders with guidance on their responsibilities.”
On May 15, the CFPB and Conference of State Bank Supervisors jointly issued a Consumer Relief Guide to provide information to homeowners with federally-backed mortgage loans regarding their rights to relief under the CARES Act. The Guide outlines steps for requesting forbearance and provides additional resources for borrowers who need assistance when understanding their options or working with their mortgage servicers. The Bureau also refers borrowers to its centralized webpage, which covers consumer financial resources for the Covid-19 pandemic (covered by InfoBytes here), as well as its joint housing assistance website launched in coordination with the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (covered by InfoBytes here).
The New York Department of Financial Services has updated its resource page providing information for consumers and small businesses relating to Covid-19. The resource page provides information on, among other things, deferrals of insurance premium payments, the federal CARES Act legislation, and essential businesses guidance and FAQs.
- Melissa Klimkiewicz to discuss "Lender town hall" at the National Flood Conference webinar
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "BSA for BSA seasoned officers" at an NAFCU webinar
- Sherry-Maria Safchuk to discuss "The CCPA: Successes, failures, and practical considerations for compliance" at a American Bar Association webinar
- Jon David D. Langlois to discuss "LIBOR transition: Preparations for legal professionals" at a Mortgage Bankers Association webinar
- Garylene D. Javier to discuss "Navigating workplace culture in 2020" at the DC Bar Conference