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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

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  • Maryland Expedites Licensing For Certain Mortgage Loan Originators

    Lending

    On May 15, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed SB 1091, which expedites mortgage loan originator licensing in that state by requiring the Commissioner of Financial Regulation to waive the state’s criminal history records check for any applicant who was employed as a registered mortgage loan originator within 45 days before the date of application for a Maryland license. The change takes effect October 1, 2014. The bill is less sweeping than the version initially introduced, which would have allowed the Commissioner to issue transitional licenses to individuals licensed under the laws of another state.

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  • New York DFS Superintendent Promises Scrutiny Of Nonbank Servicer Affiliates, Previews Originator Licensing Changes

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    On May 20, New York DFS Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky spoke during the Mortgage Bankers Association’s National Secondary Market Conference and extended his recent focus on nonbank mortgage servicers. As detailed in excerpts from the remarks he delivered, Mr. Lawsky specifically addressed concerns about ancillary services offered by nonbank mortgage servicer affiliates—e.g. vacant property inspections, short sales marketed through online auctions, foreclosure sales, and debt collection. He asserted that such arrangements put borrowers and investors at risk of becoming “fee factories” and promised to expand DFS’s investigation of ancillary services. Though not reflected in the excerpts released by the DFS, Mr. Lawsky also previewed changes intended to streamline the DFS’s application process for mortgage originator licenses and branch locations in an effort to reduce burden on licensees and improve processing times.

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  • Missouri Division Of Finance Transitions Mortgage Company Licensing To NMLS

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    Recently, the Missouri Division of Finance announced that all mortgage company and branch licenses issued through the Division will transition to the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS). All currently licensed companies must transition their licenses to the NMLS by October 1, 2014, and effective June 2, 2014, new company license applicants must request licensure through the NMLS. The NMLS will host a transition training webinar on June 5, 2014 for all currently licensed mortgage companies.

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  • Utah Amends Mortgage Licensing Act

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    On April 1, Utah enacted SB 332, which amends the Utah Residential Mortgage Practices and Licensing Act, the Real Estate Licensing and Practices Act, and the Real Estate Appraiser Licensing and Certification Act to establish a procedure for the voluntary surrender of a license issued under each of those acts. The bill clarifies the scope of what it means to be engaged in the business of residential mortgage loans under the Utah Residential Mortgage Practices and Licensing Act, and includes numerous other amendments to the other two Acts. The changes take effect May 13 2014.

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  • New York DFS Obtains Substantial Settlement In Licensing Enforcement Action

    Consumer Finance

    On March 31, in an enforcement action with potential implications for a range of financial service providers, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) announced that an insurance holding company agreed to pay a $50 million civil fine to resolve allegations that two of its subsidiaries conducted unlicensed insurance business in the state, and that one of the subsidiaries made false representations about those activities. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office (DA) announced that the company agreed to resolve a parallel criminal investigation by entering into a deferred prosecution agreement and disgorging $10 million in profits.

    The DFS and the DA claim that their coordinated investigations revealed that the subsidiaries used New York-based sales representatives to solicit insurance business for the companies and their affiliates, and to directly sell insurance products in New York to multinational companies, notwithstanding representations to the contrary from the companies. However, the authorities allege, neither company was licensed to conduct business in the state, and both companies used sales representatives who were not licensed as insurance brokers or agents in New York.

    In addition, the DFS and the DA assert that one of the subsidiaries, while operating under the control of a different parent company, intentionally misrepresented to the New York State Insurance Department (one of the DFS’s predecessor agencies) that the subsidiary did not solicit business in New York and that its New York staff did not engage in such activities. At the time, in seeking an opinion as to whether it was required to obtain a license, the company asserted that its New York operations were limited to “back office” operations not subject to licensing requirements.

    The civil fine in this action is substantially larger than fines typically imposed with regard to state licensing violations in other financial services industries. Notably, the large fine was imposed even after the companies agreed to cooperate in an ongoing investigation of the two subsidiaries’ former parent company. Also significant, the disgorgement order equates to two years’ worth of profits earned in connection with the alleged unlicensed activity. The holding company also agreed to certain restrictions on its business and that of the two subsidiaries pending full compliance with state law.

    The DFS is the principal financial industry regulator in the state of New York, with jurisdiction over banks; mortgage lenders, brokers and servicers; consumer lenders; money transfer businesses; insurance companies; and others.

    Mortgage Licensing Enforcement Insurance Licensing Licensing NYDFS

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  • Virginia Enacts Transitional Mortgage Licensing Bill

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    On March 24, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed SB 118, which, effective July 1, 2014, will permit transitional licensing of mortgage loan originators (MLO). The bill grants the State Corporation Commission (SCC) authority to issue temporary MLO licenses to certain MLOs licensed in other states. The SCC will only issue a transitional MLO license to applicants it determines (i) have never had a mortgage loan originator license revoked by any governmental authority; (ii) have not been convicted of, or pled guilty or nolo contendere to a felony during a defined period prior to the date of the application; (iii) have become registered through, and obtained a unique identifier from, the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry; and (iv) are employed by a person licensed by the SCC as a mortgage lender or mortgage broker. Further, any transitional MLO license issued by the SCC will expire on the earlier of (i) the date the SCC issues or denies a Virginia MLO license for the applicant; or (ii) 120 days from the date the transitional MLO license was issued. Also notable, is that the bill allows the SCC to issue transitional licenses to MLOs from federally regulated institutions who transition employment to a Virginia mortgage bank, but only after federal law is changed to allow such transitional licenses. The CFPB has interpreted federal law to prohibit such transitional licenses.

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  • Virginia Enacts Banking, Consumer Finance Bills

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    Over the past week, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed several bills impacting banks and certain consumer finance providers. The first bill, HB 358 repealed a state law that that barred out-of-state banks from opening de novo branches in Virginia unless the bank's home state provided reciprocal access to Virginia banks. The change will allow out-of-state banks to establish branches in Virginia on the same basis as state-chartered banks. A second banking bill, HB 1062, provides that an existing statutory provision requiring the Virginia State Corporation Commission to ascertain that certain minimum capital stock requirements are met prior to issuing a certificate of authority to a bank does not apply to the Commission’s issuance of such a certificate to a bank holding company or to a resulting bank in connection with certain types of mergers involving the holding company and its subsidiary bank. A third bill, HB 69, amends state law to expand the types of services that may be provided under an extended motor vehicle service contract and to authorize the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services to designate additional services that may be provided under an extended service contract. The bill also provides that extended service contracts are not insurance subject to state regulation as such. The above approved bills will take effect on July 1, 2014. Finally, the Governor approved a bill passed by the General Assembly, HB 954, which would permit the State Corporation Commission to issue transitional mortgage loan originator licenses.

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  • Washington Clarifies Mortgage Loan Originator Rule

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    On January 24, the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions issued a clarification regarding an aspect of its mortgage originator rules and guidance. The Department previously advised that managers, including branch managers, must license individually as mortgage loan originators if they (i) take residential mortgage loan applications, negotiate the terms or conditions of residential mortgage loans, or hold themselves out as being able to conduct these activities; (ii) supervise loan processors or underwriting employees; or (iii) supervise licensed mortgage loan originators. The Department now states that (i) any manager or any person who takes a residential mortgage loan application in Washington, negotiates the terms or conditions of a residential mortgage loan on Washington property, or holds themselves out as being able to conduct those activities, must have a Washington MLO license, and that Washington licensed MLOs must work from a licensed location; (ii) any manager who directly supervises loan processor or underwriting employees must hold an MLO license, which can be from any state, and Washington licensed MLOs must work from a licensed location; and (iii) any manager who directly supervises Washington licensed MLOs must themselves hold a Washington MLO license and must work from a licensed location. For items (ii) and (iii) the Department states that it is looking for licensure of the day to day operational supervisors.  Supervisory plans must be written and maintained as part of business books and records, and must include consideration of the location of the supervisor and employees supervised, the number of employees supervised, and the volume of work performed by the supervised employees.

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  • CSBS Announces Four More State Agencies Transitioning To Uniform Mortgage Test

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    On January 7, the CSBS announced that, as of January 1, four additional state or U.S. territorial agencies began using the National SAFE MLO test. With the addition of these four agencies—the Nevada Department of Business & Industry, the New Mexico Financial Institutions Division, the Puerto Rico Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions, and the U.S. Virgin Islands Division of Banking & Insurance—a total of 39 agencies are now using the test, which was announced last January and launched in April 2013. The test includes a uniform state component to replace the state-specific component in adopting states.

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  • Georgia Amends Mortgage Loan Origination, Licensing Regulations

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    Recently, Georgia amended certain regulations related to mortgage loan originations, originators, and brokers. Effective November 29, 2013, borrowers are required to pay to the Department of Banking a $10 per loan fee if a loan is secured by a deed to secure debt, security deed, mortgage, security instrument, deed of trust, modification of a security deed, or other form or modification of a security interest. Further, any person who acts as the collecting agent at a closing of a mortgage loan transaction is liable for payment of the $10 fee, and the remittance of any such fees after the date on which they are due will subject the person to a late payment fee of $100 for each due date missed. The filing of a fee statement after the date on which it is due, even if no $10 fees were collected by the collecting agent during the applicable reporting period, will subject the person to a late filing fee of $100 for each due date missed. If the Department finds that a person has not, through negligence or otherwise, submitted $10 fees within six months of the due date, it may impose an additional $100 fine for failure to remit fees. Repeated failures to submit $10 fees may be grounds for revocation of license. In addition, the regulation amends the definition of "branch manager” to require that an individual be a licensed mortgage loan originator to be approved as a branch manager, and requires an affidavit verifying the lawful presence of every natural person that submits an application for a license as a mortgage broker or mortgage lender or a registration on behalf of an individual or company. Among other things, the rules also require applicants, registrants, and licensed mortgage brokers and mortgage lenders to keep the information on the NMLSR current and to make amendments within 10 days of the events necessitating change and adds an administrative fine of $1,000 per occurrence for failing to timely update information on the NMLSR.

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