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On July 8, the Fed updated its frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding Regulation O, Loans to Executive Officers, Directors, and Principal Shareholders of Member Banks (12 CFR Part 215). The Fed clarified that a bank’s payment of premiums as part of a split dollar life insurance arrangement does not constitute as an extension of credit to an insider, provided that certain conditions are met. The agency noted that, “under a split dollar life insurance arrangement, a bank pays the premiums on a policy insuring the life of an employee of the bank. Split dollar life insurance arrangements can take many forms. For example, the insurance policy can be owned by the bank, the employee, or a third party (typically a trust).” The Fed further explained that “[r]egardless of form, the bank is entitled to receive from the proceeds of the insurance policy a pre-negotiated amount upon the death of the insured or when the insured surrenders the policy.”
On June 6, the CFPB updated its Civil Penalty Fund Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). The FAQs, among other things: (i) present the Civil Penalty Fund Allocation Schedule; (ii) clarify basic definitions related to CFPB civil money penalties; (iii) clarify when the Bureau will begin to distribute funds; and (iv) explain redress and its difference from payments to victims from the Civil Penalty Fund.
On December 2, the CFPB Ombudsman’s Office published its annual report, which details inquiries handled by the office as well as its strategic plan goals for the next two years. As a new initiative going forward, following a pilot test at the request of the CFPB, the Ombudsman determined that it would begin conducting post-examination surveys of supervised entities, with a focus on three process areas: (i) supervision materials and resources; (ii) interpersonal communications with Bureau personnel; and (iii) end-of-examination topics, including clarity in expectations of closure and awareness of the appeals process. The Ombudsman will host virtual engagements with industry stakeholders in Q1 of FY2022 to further share information about the survey plan.
Relatedly, the Ombudsman closed its review of one topic from the previous year concerning the information provided to companies during examinations. The review was in response to concerns by industry stakeholders, who anticipated a more positive examination outcome based on communications with the examination team during the onsite portion of the examination. The report noted recent improvements made by the Bureau in this area, including revising certain job aids to assist examiners with both examination outcomes and the enforcement process, in addition to posting information about possible types of outcomes on its website. The report also highlighted: (i) examples on issues the Ombudsman handled during the previous year, including assisting on individual consumer inquiries about stimulus payments and offering feedback and suggestions on draft CFPB materials; (ii) an update on the virtual Ombudsman Forum, which facilitated discussions on topics such as racial and economic equity; (iii) an analysis of individual inquiries; and (iv) a release of frequently asked questions about the Ombudsman’s Office.
Finally, this year’s report also features a new section, the Ombudsman in Brief, which summarizes two topics where the Ombudsman did not engage in a systemic review: (i) assisting the Bureau divisions and offices with their processes related to complaints submitted by small business owners; and (ii) suggesting standardization of terminology within the Bureau when referring to various stakeholder communities.
On November 8, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published new Syria FAQ 934, which relates to the United Nations and the U.S. government's stabilization and early recovery-related activities and transactions involving Syria. According to OFAC, the Syrian Sanctions Regulations (SySR) § 542.513 permit, under certain conditions, “the United Nations, its Specialized Agencies, Programmes, Funds, and Related Organizations and their employees, contractors, or grantees to engage in all transactions and activities in support of their official business in Syria, including any stabilization and early recovery-related activities and transactions in support of their official business.” This authorization applies to all United Nations employees, grantees, and contractors carrying out the official business of the United Nations, specialized agencies, programmes, funds, and related organizations. This includes nongovernmental organizations and private sector entities that act as grantees or contractors.
FAQ 934 also reiterates advice from FAQ 884 that non-U.S. persons, including nongovernmental organizations and foreign financial institutions “do not risk exposure to U.S. secondary sanctions pursuant to the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019” for activities that would be authorized for U.S. persons under the SySR. (Covered by InfoBytes here.)
On September 8, the FDIC updated its brokered deposits FAQs by adding an FAQ to illustrate an example of when a broker is “proposing deposit allocations” under the “matchmaking” definition. According to the FAQ, if an individual identifies at which banks to place the funds of individual customers of a broker dealer as part of a broker dealer sweep program, the person is “proposing deposit allocations” for purposes of the “matchmaking” definition. The new FAQ explains that this is true even if the broker dealer determines the group of banks, or the order of banks, at which the person can propose placing individual depositor's funds or the maximum amount that can be placed at each bank. In addition, the guidance explains that a person that is “proposing deposit allocations” at, or between, more than one bank, also satisfies the other criteria in the matchmaking definition.
The FDIC also provided a public list of all entities that have submitted public notices for the primary purpose exception as of August 31, 2021. Of the two exceptions that require notice filing, the majority of the filers so far claimed an exception based on “enabling transactions” business relationships whereby 100 percent of depositors’ funds that an agent or nominee places, or assists in placing, at depository institutions are placed into transactional accounts that do not pay any fees, interest, or other remuneration to the depositor.
On August 9, President Biden issued an Executive Order (E.O.) on “Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Belarus.” According to the E.O., expanding the scope will address the national emergency declared in E.O. 13405, “finding that the Belarusian regime’s harmful activities and long-standing abuses aimed at suppressing democracy and the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Belarus—including illicit and oppressive activities stemming from the August 9, 2020, fraudulent Belarusian presidential election and its aftermath, such as the elimination of political opposition and civil society organizations and the regime’s disruption and endangering of international civil air travel—constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” The E.O blocks property and interests in property that are in the U.S. or in the possession or control of certain persons who meet one or more of the criteria set forth in the order, including those who are determined, among other things: (i) “to be a political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality of the Government of Belarus”; (ii) “to be or have been a leader or official of the Government of Belarus”; and (iii) “to operate or have operated in the defense and related materiel sector, security sector, energy sector, potassium chloride (potash) sector, tobacco products sector, construction sector, or transportation sector of the economy of Belarus, or any other sector of the Belarus economy as may be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State.” The Treasury Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is authorized to take actions, including promulgating rules and regulations, to carry out the purposes of the E.O.
The same day, OFAC issued Belarus General License (GL) 4, related FAQs 916, 917 and 918, and added names to OFAC’s SDN list. Specifically, GL 4 authorizes the Wind Down of Transactions Involving Belaruskali OAO through December 8.
On July 12, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued General License (GL) 40, “Authorizing Certain Transactions Involving the Exportation or Reexportation of Liquefied Petroleum Gas to Venezuela.” GL 40 permits transactions and activities otherwise prohibited by Executive Order 13884 (covered by InfoBytes here) involving “the Government of Venezuela, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA), or any entity in which PdVSA owns, directly or indirectly, a 50 percent or greater interest.” OFAC also published two new FAQs, 914 and 915, related to GL 40.
- Benjamin W. Hutten to discuss “Ongoing CDD: Operational considerations” at NAFCU’s Regulatory Compliance & BSA Seminar
- James C. Chou to discuss ransomware at NAFCU’s Regulatory Compliance & BSA seminar
- Jedd R. Bellman to provide an “Attorney exemption/medical debt update” at the North American Collection Agency Regulatory Association annual conference
- Kathryn L. Ryan to discuss “What should crypto regulation look like: Legislation, regulation and consumer issues” at WCL's First Annual Virtual Currency Law Institute
- Elizabeth E. McGinn to discuss “How to mitigate and manage third-party risks: Leveraging tools and best practices” at The Knowledge Group’s webcast
- Elizabeth E. McGinn, Benjamin W. Hutten, and James C. Chou to discuss “The evolving regulatory landscape: Third-party and cyber risk management” at the 2022 mWISE Conference
- Sherry-Maria Safchuk to discuss “For your eyes only: Privacy updates for 2022-2023” at CCFL’s Annual Consumer Financial Services Conference
- James T. Parkinson to present a “Global anti-corruption update” at IBA’s annual conference