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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • CBO report outlines strengths and risks of the FHLBank system

    Federal Issues

    Recently, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report on the Federal Home Loan Banks’ (FHLBanks) role in the financial system, outlining their strengths and risks in the larger financial system. The CBO noted that FHLBanks are insulated from failure because their main activity, granting advances to members, was “overcollateralized and benefits from the banks’ super-lien position.” On accounting this year, the CBO estimated that in FY 2024, FHLBanks will receive $7.3 billion in subsidies, driven by new debts and reductions in debt-service costs. The CBO also estimated that in FY 2024, FHLBanks will issue $800 billion of debt and make advances of $560 billion. The CBO listed three potential risks FHLBanks could pose to the broader financial system: first was a risk to taxpayers in the event the FHLBank system failed and required government support; second was the risk that any FHLBank stress could spill over into other financial areas; and third was the risk of losses to the FDIC Deposit Insurance Fund from FHLBanks’ collateralized lending and their “super-lien positions.” However, the CBO’s report noted that FHLBanks pose less of a risk than Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or other commercial banks. Further, there have never been any credit losses on an FHLBank advance. Despite these strengths, CBO noted that FHLBanks could still fail in an economic crisis.

    Federal Issues FHLB Accounting

  • Chopra pens comment letter on appraisal issues, including bias, related to not-for-profit player’s oversight

    Federal Issues

    On March 18, the Director of the CFPB, Rohit Chopra, in his capacity as a voting member of the FFIEC, released a comment letter regarding the recent Appraisal Subcommittee hearings. He opened on how the appraisal process was governed not by a governmental agency, but instead by a not-for-profit corporation leading to “key issues” related to appraisal bias. Despite its private status, this organization was governed by the Appraisal Subcommittee which monitors and reviews the organizational structure of the not-for-profit appraisal corporation. Chopra outlined several issues gleaned from the four hearings: First, Chopra noted “severe deficiencies” with the not-for-profit’s conflict of interest policies, noting that the Executive Branch’s conflict of interest policies for employees spanned 77 pages, while the not-for-profit’s policy was less than 10. Second, the not-for-profit has an “insular and contorted governance structure” that favors private over public interests. And third, the Appraisal Foundation’s governance processes, such as electing its President, lack transparency. Chopra highlighted these three examples and described the overall lack of accountability as “deeply troubling” because the not-for-profit was one of the most powerful players when it comes to appraisals.

    Federal Issues Appraisal Nonprofit CFPB

  • Chopra discusses open banking and standard-setting

    Federal Issues

    On March 13, the Director of the CFPB, Rohit Chopra, delivered prepared remarks at the Financial Data Exchange Global Summit and discussed advancing the U.S. towards open banking. Chopra outlined the current efforts and considerations surrounding the development of industry standards that would help transition consumers with switching financial products. The CFPB had been finalizing rules on Section 1033 of the CFPA which would grant consumers the right to access their financial data and would aim to protect sensitive personal financial information while promoting open banking (covered by InfoBytes here).

    Chopra highlighted the importance of creating industry standards for data sharing and communication protocols, drawing parallels with existing standards in electronics and financial services. While the CFPB's proposal acknowledged the role of standards, Chopra noted that it intentionally avoided being overly “prescriptive” to avoid stifling innovation, among other things.

    The speech also addressed the potential for anticompetitive behavior in the standard-setting process. Chopra noted historical instances of anticompetitive behavior, a concern that the CFPB had been monitoring closely. The Bureau will be working with the DOJ to prevent such practices.

    The Bureau sought to codify what standard-setting organizations must demonstrate to be recognized under the proposed rule, then invite those organizations to begin the process of receiving formal recognition from the CFPB. Based on the comments received on the proposed rule, Chopra expects that by this fall, the final rule will “identify the areas where standards are relevant to the requirements of the final rule.” Chopra also noted the CFPB considered whether standard-setting organizations should be balanced so no entity or group of entities can “dominate[] decision making.” He noted that the Bureau will investigate the makeup of entities’ standard-setting/modification groups and funding structure, warning if an entity’s composition or funding suggests favoritism, then “that will be a problem.” Chopra noted that if the CFPB cannot identify standard-setting organizations, it is prepared to implement more detailed guidance.

    Federal Issues CFPB Open Banking CFPA Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

  • FDIC Vice Chair delivers remarks on tokenization

    On March 11, FDIC Vice Chairman Travis Hill delivered prepared remarks on “Banking’s Next Chapter? Remarks on Tokenization and Other Issues.” The speech addressed the evolution of money and payment systems, focusing on the recent innovation of tokenizing commercial bank deposits and other assets and liabilities. Hill distinguished tokenization from assets like Bitcoin and Ether: “tokenization involves a representation of ‘real-world assets’ on a distributed ledger, including… commercial bank deposits, government and corporate bonds, money market fund shares, gold and other commodities, and real estate.” Hill highlighted the potential benefits of tokenization, such as improved efficiency in payments and settlements, 24/7/365 operations, programmability, atomic settlement (the settlement, or the act of transferring ownership of an asset from seller to buyer, combining instant and simultaneous settlements) and the creation of an immutable audit trail. He also mentioned that these innovations could streamline complex processes like cross-border transactions and bond issuances, offering notable advantages over traditional banking systems.

    The speech also acknowledged challenges and risks associated with tokenization, including technical, operational, and legal uncertainties. Questions remain about the structure of the future financial system, interoperability between different blockchains, and the legal implications of transferring ownership via tokens, Hill added.

    Regarding the regulatory approach to digital assets and tokenization, Hill expressed the need for as much clarity as possible, even in areas whether the technology is evolving quickly. For example, Hill noted that “it would be helpful to provide certainty that deposits are deposits, regardless of the technology or recordkeeping deployed, and if there are reasons to distinguish some or all tokenized deposits from traditional deposits for any regulatory, reporting, or other purpose, the FDIC should… explain how and why.”

    Bank Regulatory Federal Issues Digital Assets Bank Supervision Payments Federal Reserve

  • HUD sued for allegedly failing to refund mortgage insurance premiums for early-terminated FHA-insured mortgages


    On March 12, a putative class action complaint was filed against the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for allegedly denying homeowners their Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) refunds upon the early termination of their FHA-insured mortgages. According to the complaint, HUD must refund unearned MIPs, but has refused to refund homeowners by creating “unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles.” The plaintiffs alleged that the OIG had confirmed “the validity of complaints regarding HUD’s handling of MIP refunds.”

    Citing HUD regulations, the plaintiffs alleged that when an FHA mortgage is terminated early, within seven years of the purchase of the refinancing of the property, there is an overpayment of the MIP which should be refunded by HUD. According to the plaintiffs it is a “widespread practice” for HUD not to automatically refund MIPs, but instead require a burdensome, lengthy process which hindered the prompt refund of fees in multiple ways. The 2022 OIG report cited by plaintiffs allegedly found, among other things, that HUD did not have adequate controls in place to ensure that refunds were appropriately tracked, monitored, and issued. The plaintiffs alleged that Floridians are owed over $21.7 million in refunds.

    The plaintiffs are seeking injunctive and declaratory relief and a return of all unfairly retained refunds “together with damages in the amount of the total earned interest and other investment monies accrued by Defendant with Plaintiff’s and Class Members’ monies.” 

    Courts Federal Issues HUD Class Action OIG FHA

  • CFPB releases consumer advisory for student borrowers notifying them of April deadline to cancel

    Federal Issues

    On March 11, the CFPB published a consumer advisory notifying student loan borrowers that they may have an opportunity to cancel or receive credits toward the cancellation of their student loans but some borrowers will need to consolidate their loans by April 30 in order to obtain the benefit. The Department of Education has implemented a “one-time adjustment” to help borrowers receive credit toward federal student loan cancellation. This adjustment is designed to enable the counting of more payments, including all payments made on federally managed loans since July 1, 1994, as well as certain periods of deferment, economic hardship, and forbearance. Generally, federal student loans are eligible for Income Driven Repayment (IDR) plans, which offer loan cancellation after 10, 20, or 25 years of qualifying payments, or after 10 years for those pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), provided other eligibility criteria are met. The Bureau also noted that consolidation is free, warning against scammers who would charge for that service.


    Federal Issues CFPB Consumer Finance Student Lending Department of Education Income-Driven Repayment

  • Business groups sue the CFPB over credit card late fee rule


    On March 7, several business groups (plaintiffs) sued the CFPB rule in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas over its announced credit card late fee rule. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Bureau’s new final rule limited most credit card late fees to $8, among other actions, and was met immediately with criticism from banks and legislators.

    The plaintiffs’ complaint claimed the CFPB completed the rule hastily to implement a pledge made by President Biden around his State of the Union Address to reduce credit card late fees by 75 percent. The complaint further asserted the CFPB skipped necessary steps, made economic miscalculations, and otherwise breached the Administrative Procedure Act. As alleged, the Bureau likely understated “the volatility of card issuers’ cost-to-fee ratios pertaining to late fees” and improperly relied on data which does not allow for the recovery of a “reasonable and proportional” penalty fee. On the Bureau’s use of the Y-14M data, the complaint alleged the new rule ignored peer-reviewed studies and instead opted to base the rule on an internal study using confidential data that was not available for examination during the period allocated for public comment. The plaintiffs argued the final rule would incur “substantial compliance costs” by amending printed disclosures, using the cost-analysis provisions, and notifying consumers of changes in interest rates to recoup costs, among other problems. The complaint also cited TILA’s effective-date provisions and the Bureau’s embattled funding structure to support the argument that the final rule would cause irreparable harm.

    Courts Federal Issues CFPB Litigation Credit Cards Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Fees Consumer Finance Consumer Protection

  • GAO report calls for FDIC, Fed to fix bank supervision issues

    On March 6, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report to congressional requesters, including Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chairman of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, regarding the Fed and FDIC’s communication of supervisory concerns related to the 2023 banking issues and the agencies’ procedures for escalating concerns. The report found that while both regulators generally met their requirements for communicating concerns, the Fed’s escalation procedures lacked clarity and specificity, which could have contributed to delayed enforcement last year.

    The GAO recommended that the Fed revise its escalation procedures to be more precise and include measurable criteria. The Fed agreed with the recommendation and acknowledged that clearer examination procedures could help in addressing supervisory concerns more promptly. For the FDIC, the GAO recognized that the FDIC already updated its escalation procedures in August 2023 and will intend to implement further revisions to respond promptly. The GAO report also suggested that Congress amend the FDI Act to incorporate noncapital triggers related to unsafe banking practices before they affect capital.

    Bank Regulatory Federal Issues FDIC Federal Reserve Bank Supervision GAO Congress

  • VA proposes rule changes to VA-Guaranteed, IRRRLoans

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On March 7, the VA published a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register titled “Loan Guaranty: Revisions to VA-Guaranteed or Insured Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loans” which sought comment on whether the “date of loan issuance” should be defined as date of the note (as originally suggested) or as the date “the first payment is due.” The notice explained the VA did not receive any comments on this aspect of the proposed rule and enumerated several concerns with the initial proposed definition. The comment period for this proposed rule will close on May 6.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues Department of Veterans Affairs Loans

  • Fed issues final rule for FMUs to update risk management requirements, noting cyber and climate risks

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On March 8, the Federal Reserve Board announced a final rule that will update risk management requirements for financial market utilities (FMUs) supervised by the Fed. FMUs provide the financial infrastructure to clear and settle payments and transactions. The rule will go into effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, and FMUs are expected to comply with certain updates by 90 days and all updates by 180 days after publication. The Fed reported the final rule is “substantially similar” to the proposed rule and provided additional details to the exiting requirements for the following: (i) review and testing; (ii) incident management; (iii) business continuity management; and (iv) third-party risk management.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues Federal Reserve Cyber Risk & Data Security Risk Management


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