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On January 11, the OCC reported that it has ordered a large London-based bank to pay $32.5 million to settle claims that the bank failed to properly follow the regulator’s orders to improve mortgage foreclosure practices that led to borrowers being harmed after the 2008 credit crisis. Specifically, the OCC had accused the bank in 2015 of failing to meet the demands it had agreed to, and the agency imposed certain additional restrictions on the company’s mortgage-servicing abilities until it fixed the alleged shortcomings. The regulator also noted that the bank had failed to properly file documents in certain bankruptcy cases after the orders (for which it was ordered to pay $3.5 million in remediation to borrowers). The OCC confirmed, however, that the bank is now in compliance with all OCC orders related to the alleged foreclosure practices.
On January 9, two GOP lawmakers sent a letter to Vice President-elect Mike Pence urging the incoming administration to remove CFPB Director Richard Cordray “promptly after [President Trump’s] inauguration.” Stating that “[i]t’s time to fire King Richard,” Sen. Ben Sasse, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, and Sen. Mike Lee cited the D.C. Circuit’s October 2016 decision in CFPB v. PHH to argue that, once in office, President Trump has the constitutional authority to remove Director Cordray immediately. In pushing for Director Cordray’s ouster, the Senators noted, among other things, the CFPB’s decision to move ahead in the lame-duck session with regulations of arbitration clauses and payday loans, which they consider costly and “radically opposed to the Trump administration’s pro-growth agenda.”
As previously covered by InfoBytes, a majority of a panel of U.S. Circuit Court for District of Columbia concluded in October 2016 that the CFPB’s governance structure was unconstitutional, and, as a corrective measure, authorized the President to fire the Bureau’s sole Director at will—a ruling for which the Bureau now seeks rehearing en banc. In addressing this pending appeal, the Senators’ January 9 letter suggests in a footnote that, if the rehearing moves forward, the Justice Department should refrain from defending the CFPB.
On January 3, the CFPB announced the release of its annual report to the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations for 2016. The report—which covers October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016—identifies the specific responsibilities that the Dodd-Frank Act tasked to the CFPB and explains how the Bureau has attempted to meet those responsibilities. Among other things, the report describes Bureau regulations and guidance related to the Dodd-Frank Act including, but not limited to: (i) a proposed rule on arbitration; (ii) a proposed rule related to payday loans, vehicle title loans, and other similar credit products; (iii) a final rule to amend various provisions of the mortgage servicing rules implementing the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and the Truth in Lending Act; and (iv) a final rule amending Regulation C, implementing the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. The report also includes descriptions of the Bureau’s supervisory activities and enforcement actions undertaken by in the 2016 fiscal year.
On December 22, the Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions (the “Department”) issued a memorandum stating that master servicers and sub servicers are required to be licensed as mortgage loan companies under the Kentucky Mortgage Licensing and Regulation Act, unless they can document to the Department in writing that an exemption applies to them. The memorandum defines “master servicer” as “any entity or individual that owns the right to perform servicing of a mortgage loan. A master servicer typically reserves the legal right to either perform the servicing itself or to do so through a sub servicer.” The memorandum specifies that “[a] sub servicer does not own the right to perform mortgage servicing, but performs servicing on behalf of a master servicer, generally premised upon duties enumerated in a contract between the sub servicer and master servicer.” The licensing requirement is effective March 1, 2017.
On December 16, the Director of the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity at the CFPB announced the Bureau’s fair lending priorities for 2017. According to Ms. Ficklin’s blog post, the CFPB will increase its efforts to prevent credit discrimination and improve credit access by focusing on redlining, mortgage and student loan servicing, and small business lending. Specifically, the Bureau will increase its focus on evaluating: (i) whether lenders are intentionally avoiding lending in minority neighborhoods; (ii) if delinquent borrowers face more difficulty in working out payment arrangements with mortgage or student loan servicers because of their race or ethnicity; and (iii) whether women-owned and minority-owned small businesses experience discrimination when applying for credit.
On December 19, the FHFA published a final rule modifying, reorganizing and relocating the current regulation governing the Federal Home Loan Banks’ (FHLBs) Acquired Member Asset (AMA) programs. As required by the Dodd-Frank Act, the final rule removes and replaces references in the current regulation to ratings issued by a Nationally Recognized Statistical Ratings Organization. The rule also provides the FHLBs with greater flexibility in choosing a model for estimating the credit enhancement required for AMA loans. The final rule adds a provision allowing an FHLB to authorize the transfer of mortgage servicing rights on AMA loans to any institution, including a non-member of the FHLB System. The new rule also allows FHLBs to acquire mortgage loans that exceed the conforming loan limits where such loans are guaranteed or insured by a department or agency of the U.S. government. The final rule excludes a proposed provision that would have eliminated the use of private, loan-level, supplemental mortgage insurance in the member credit enhancement structure required for the AMA programs, but the final version does require FHLBs to establish financial and operational standards that insurers must meet before offering insurance on AMA loans. The new final rule goes into effect on January 18, 2017.
Also on December 19, FHFA issued another final rule (i) limiting the scope of “business activities” that would trigger an FHLB’s obligation to file a “new business activity” notice, (ii) modifying the submission requirements, and (iii) establishing new timelines for agency review and approval of such notices. The rule “narrows the scope of the [new business activity] regulation in two ways: (1) By limiting it to activities that introduce new material risks to the [FHLB]; and (2) By eliminating the need to file an NBA notice prior to accepting new types of collateral.” This new rule similarly goes into effect on January 18, 2017.
On December 19, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) posted the 2017 version of its Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Data Entry Software. This software—which is intended to help automate the filing of CRA data—is year-specific, i.e., 2016 reporting requires the 2016 version, not the 2017 version. In November, the FFIEC clarified that it was discontinuing its HMDA Data Entry Software and instead requiring that filers submit HMDA data collected in 2017 using a web interface called the “HMDA Platform.”
On December 19, the CFPB announced the release of “Consumer Credit Trends,” a beta version of its new web-based tool to help the public monitor developments in the mortgage, credit card, auto loan, and student loan markets. According to the Bureau, the data used by Consumer Credit Trends “draws from a nationally representative sample of credit records maintained by one of the top three U.S. credit repositories.” The CFPB plans to update this information regularly, and will offer analyses on notable findings as warranted. It also clarifies that “before being provided to the Bureau,” the credit records are “stripped of any information that might reveal consumers’ identities, such as names, addresses, and Social Security numbers.” The ability to “chart the state of consumer markets,” says CFPB Director Richard Cordray, “will help us identify and act on trends that warn of another crisis or that show credit is too constricted.”
FHFA published a final rule in the December 18 Federal Register implementing certain “Duty to Serve” provisions of the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992, as amended by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. Among other things, these provisions require that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac adopt formal plans to improve the availability of mortgage financing in a “safe and sound manner” for residential properties that serve “very low-, low-, and moderate-income families” in three specified underserved markets: manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation, and rural markets. FHFA’s new rule addresses this obligation by requiring both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to submit to FHFA a three-year “Underserved Markets Plan” that describes the activities and objectives they will undertake to meet their Duty to Serve requirements. The Plans will become effective January 2018, after which time, the new rule requires further that FHFA annually evaluate, rate, and report to Congress each Enterprise's compliance with its Duty to Serve obligations as required by the statute.
On December 13, the FDIC announced that its board of directors has approved a $2.18 billion operating budget for 2017, representing a 2.4 percent decrease from 2016 and a 46 percent decrease from its peak funding in 2010 at the height of the financial crisis. Commenting on the budget and staffing levels, FDIC Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg said, “This is the seventh consecutive reduction in the FDIC’s annual operating budget. These reductions are made possible by continuing steady improvement in the health of the U.S. banking industry.”
- APPROVED Webcast: CFL license transition to NMLS
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “Justice for all: Achieving racial equity through fair lending” at CBA Live
- Warren W. Traiger to discuss “On the horizon for CRA modernization” at CBA Live
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “Government investigations, and compliance 2021 trends” at the Corporate Counsel Women of Color Career Strategies Conference
- Max Bonici to discuss “BSA/AML trends: What to expect with the implementation of the AML Act of 2020” at the American Bar Association Banking Law Fall Meeting