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On December 3, the Federal Reserve, the CFPB, the FDIC, the NCUA, and the OCC (agencies) issued an Interagency Statement on alternative data use in credit underwriting, highlighting applicable consumer protection laws and noting risks and benefits. (See press release here). According to the statement, alternative data use in underwriting may “lower the cost of credit” and expand credit access, a point previously raised by the CFPB and covered in InfoBytes. Specifically, the potential benefits include: (i) increased “speed and accuracy of credit decisions”; (ii) lender ability to “evaluate the creditworthiness of consumers who currently may not obtain credit in the mainstream credit system”; and (iii) consumer ability “to obtain additional products and/or more favorable pricing/terms based on enhanced assessments of repayment capacity.” “Alternative data” refers to information not usually found in traditional credit reports or typically provided by customers, including for example, automated “cash flow evaluation” which evaluates a borrower’s capacity to meet payment obligations and is derived from a consumer’s bank account records. The statement indicates that this approach can improve the “measurement of income and expenses” of consumers with steady income over time from multiple sources, rather than a single job. The statement also recognizes that the way in which entities use alternative data—for example, implementing a “Second Look” program, where alternative data is only used for applicants that would otherwise be denied credit—can increase credit access. The statement points out that use of alternative data may increase potential risks, and that those practices must comply with applicable consumer protection laws, including “fair lending laws, prohibitions against unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.” Therefore, the agencies encourage entities to incorporate appropriate “robust compliance management” when using alternative data in order to protect consumer information.
Federal and state banking regulators confirmed in a December 3 joint statement that banks are no longer required to file a suspicious activity report on customers solely because they are “engaged in the growth or cultivation of hemp in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.”
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Click here to read the full special alert.
For questions about the alert and related issues, please visit our Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering practice page, or contact a Buckley attorney with whom you have worked in the past.
On November 21, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated the dismissal of a relator’s qui tam action, concluding that allegedly fraudulent loan requests made to one or more of the Federal Reserve Banks (FRBs) qualify as claims within the meaning of the False Claims Act (FCA). In the case, two qui tam relators brought an action under the FCA against a national bank and its predecessors-in-interest (defendants), alleging the defendants presented false information to FRBs in connection with their applications for loans. However the district court dismissed the action, holding that allegations of false or fraudulent claims being presented to the FRBs cannot form the basis of an FCA action because the FRBs cannot be characterized as the federal government for purposes of the FCA. In addition, the district court agreed with the defendants’ argument that the bank’s loan requests did not create FCA liability for claims, because the relators did not, and could not, “allege that the [g]overnment either provided any portion of the money loaned to the defendants, or reimbursed FRBs for making the loans.” (Previously covered by InfoBytes here.)
On appeal, the 2nd Circuit concluded that although the FRBs are not a “part of any executive department or agency,” the FRBs still act as agents of the U.S. because the U.S. “created the FRBs to act on its behalf in extending emergency credit to banks; the FRBs extend such credit; and the FRBs do so in compliance with the strictures enacted by Congress and the regulations promulgated by the [Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System], an independent agency within the executive branch.” The 2nd Circuit also held that the loan requests qualified as claims under the FCA because the money requested by the defendants is provided from the Federal Reserve System’s (Fed’s) emergency lending facilities and “is to be spent to advance a [g]overnment program or interest.” In supporting its conclusion, the appellate court stated that the U.S. “is the source of the purchasing power conferred on the banks when they borrow from the Fed’s emergency lending facilities.” The 2nd Circuit also referred to a U.S. Supreme Court holding in Rainwater v. United States, which stated that “the objective of Congress was broadly to protect the funds and property of the government from fraudulent claims, regardless of the particular form or function, of the government instrumentality upon which such claims were made.”
On November 8, the Federal Reserve Board announced a proposal to extend the initial compliance dates for foreign banks subject to its single-counterparty credit limit rule by 18 months, which would require the largest foreign banks to comply by July 1, 2021 and smaller foreign banks to comply by January 1, 2022.
As previously covered by InfoBytes, in June 2018, the Federal Reserve Board approved a rule to establish single-counterparty credit limits for U.S. bank holding companies with at least $250 billion in total consolidated assets, foreign banking organizations operating in the U.S. with at least $250 billion in total global consolidated assets (as well as their intermediate holding companies with $50 billion or more in total U.S. consolidated assets), and global systemically important bank holding companies (GSIBs). The rule, which implements section 165(e) of the Dodd-Frank Act, requires the Board to limit a bank holding company’s or foreign banking organization’s credit exposure to an unaffiliated company. Under the rule, a GSIB’s credit exposure is limited to 15 percent of its tier 1 capital to another systemically important firm. A U.S. bank holding company and other applicable foreign institution is limited to a credit exposure of 25 percent of its tier 1 capital to a counterparty.
Comments on the proposal to extend the compliance dates will be accepted for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
On October 31, the CFPB and the Federal Reserve Board finalized the annual dollar threshold adjustments that govern the application of Regulation Z (Truth in Lending Act) and Regulation M (Consumer Leasing Act) to credit transactions, as required by the Dodd-Frank Act (published in the Federal Register here and here). Each year the thresholds must be readjusted based on the annual percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). The exemption threshold for 2020, based on the annual percentage increase in the CPI-W, is now $58,300 or less, except for private student loans and loans secured by real property, which are subject to TILA regardless of the amount.
On October 30, the CFPB, OCC, and the Federal Reserve Board published a final rule in the Federal Register, which increases the smaller loan exemption threshold for the special appraisal requirements for higher-priced mortgage loans (HPMLs) under TILA. TILA requires creditors to obtain a written appraisal before making a HPML unless the loan amount is at or below the threshold exemption. Each year the threshold must be readjusted based on the annual percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. The exemption threshold for 2020 is $27,200, up from $26,700 in 2019. The final rule will take effect January 1, 2020.
On October 29, the Federal Reserve Board, the FDIC, and the OCC (agencies) issued a final rule to simplify capital rule compliance requirements and reduce the regulatory burden for community banks in accordance with the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. Among other things, the final rule allows qualifying community banks to adopt a simple community bank leverage ratio to measure capital adequacy, removing requirements for calculating and reporting risk-based capital ratios. Qualifying community banks must have less than $10 billion in total consolidated assets and meet additional criteria such as a leverage ratio greater than 9 percent. The agencies estimate that approximately 85 percent of community banks will qualify. The final rule also grants a community bank that temporarily fails to comply with the framework a two-quarter grace period to come back into full compliance, as long as its leverage ratio remains above 8 percent. According to the agencies, banking organizations will be permitted to use the community bank leverage ratio framework in their March 31, 2020 Call Report or Form FR Y-9C, as applicable. The final rule will take effect January 1, 2020.
On October 28, the Federal Reserve Board and the FDIC issued a joint press release to announce the adoption of a final rule amending resolution planning requirements (known as living wills) for large domestic and foreign firms with more than $100 billion in total consolidated assets, while tailoring requirements to the level of risk a firm poses to the financial system. The final rule—which is substantially similar to the April 2019 proposal (previous InfoBytes coverage here)—makes improvements to the November 2011 joint resolution plan rule, and is consistent with amendments to Dodd-Frank made by the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. Among other things, the final rule tailors resolution planning requirements by using four “risk-based categories,” and extends the default resolution plan filing cycle. Global systemically important bank holding companies (GSIBs) will continue to be required to submit resolution plans on a two-year cycle; however, firms that do not pose the same systemic risk as GSIBs will only be required to submit their resolution plans on a three-year cycle. The agencies note in their release that both groups will alternate between submitting full and targeted resolution plans, and that “[f]oreign firms with relatively limited U.S. operations would be required to submit reduced resolution plans.” Additionally, firms with less than $250 billion in total consolidated assets that do not meet certain risk criteria will now be exempt under the final rule. The agencies also emphasize a change from the proposed rule: only smaller and less complex firms may request changes to their full resolution plans, subject to approval by both agencies prior to taking effect.
The final rule takes effect 60 days following publication in the Federal Register.
On October 17, House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif) and Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) wrote to the heads of the Federal Reserve Board, FDIC, OCC, SEC, and CFTC to oppose the federal financial regulators’ recent approval of changes to the Volcker Rule. (Previous InfoBytes coverage here.) According to Waters and Brown, the final revisions—which are designed to simplify and tailor compliance with Section 13 of the Bank Holding Company Act’s restrictions on a bank’s ability to engage in proprietary trading and own certain funds—“open the door to the very risky, speculative activities that Congress sought to prohibit.” Specifically, the letter addresses rollback concerns such as (i) narrowing the definition of a “trading account,” which would weaken the short-term intent prong; (ii) “eliminating metrics reporting”; (iii) “removing activity restrictions on non-U.S. banks”; and (iv) “expanding permitted activity related to covered funds.” Waters and Brown urged the regulators to reconsider their decision to adopt the revisions, and requested that they be provided with the data and metrics used by the regulators during their analysis, as well as the regulators’ justification for “eliminating or reducing the information and data reported by banking entities.”
On October 17, the OCC, Federal Reserve Board, FDIC, and NCUA published a proposed interagency policy statement on allowances for credit losses and proposed interagency guidance on credit risk review systems.
The proposed policy statement describes the measurement of expected credit losses under the current expected credit losses (CECL) methodology for determining allowances for credit losses applicable to financial assets measured at amortized costs. It will apply to financial assets measured at amortized cost, loans held-for-investment, net investments in leases, held-to-maturity debt securities, and certain off-balance-sheet credit exposures. The proposed policy statement also stipulates financial assets for which the CECL methodology is not applicable, and includes supervisory expectations for designing, documenting, and validating expected credit loss estimation processes. Once finalized, the proposed policy would be effective at the time of each institution’s adoption of CECL.
The proposed credit risk review systems guidance—which is relevant to all institutions supervised by the agencies—will update the 2006 Interagency Policy Statement on the Allowance for Loan and Lease Losses to reflect the CECL methodology. The proposed guidance “discusses sound management of credit risk, a system of independent, ongoing credit review, and appropriate communication regarding the performance of the institution's loan portfolio to its management and board of directors.” Furthermore, the proposed guidance stresses that financial institution employees involved with assessing credit risk should be independent from an institution’s lending function.
Comments on both proposals are due December 16.
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Risk management in enforcement actions: Managing risk or micromanaging it" at an American Bar Association webinar
- Kari K. Hall and Christopher M. Walczyszyn to speak on the "Understanding updates to Regulation CC to ensure effective check processing" at a National Association of Federal Credit Unions webinar
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "ACAMS Moneylaundering.com Year-End Compliance Review and 2020 Outlook" at an ACAMS webinar
- APPROVED Webcast: Periodic reporting made easier
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "A 20/20 view on 2020’s legislative and regulatory outlook" at the ACAMS Anti-Financial Crime and Public Policy Conference