Subscribe to our InfoBytes Blog weekly newsletter and other publications for news affecting the financial services industry.
On June 3, the Federal Reserve Board issued supervisory letter SR 19-9 to provide guidance on its enhanced process for determining the scope of safety-and-soundness examinations of community and regional state member banks (SMB). Under the “Bank Exams Tailored to Risk” (BETR) process, the Fed intends to “gauge the risk of a bank’s various activities [and] facilitate a more data-driven approach to the risk tailoring of supervisory work.” A SMB’s level of risk within individual risk dimensions—such as credit, liquidity, and operational risk—will be derived from a combination of surveillance metrics and examiner judgment.
Among other things, BETR’s objectives are to (i) apply appropriately streamlined examination work programs to identified low-risk activities, in order to conserve supervisory staff resources and minimize regulatory burden; (ii) direct enhanced supervisory resources and attention to identified high-risk activities; and (iii) implement average intensity examination work programs to moderate-risk activities. Examiners are to tailor examination procedures to the size, complexity, and risk profile of an SMB, with examiners focusing on “developing an appropriate assessment of bank management’s ability to identify, measure, monitor, and control risk.”
On May 28, the Federal Reserve Board, the FDIC, and the OCC released the current host state loan-to-deposit ratios for each state or U.S. territory, which the agencies use to determine compliance with Section 109 of the Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act of 1994. Under the Act, banks are prohibited from establishing or acquiring branches outside of their home state for the primary purpose of deposit production. Branches of banks controlled by out-of-state bank holding companies are also subject to the same restriction. Determining compliance with Section 109 requires a comparison of a bank’s estimated statewide loan-to-deposit ratio to the yearly host state loan-to-deposit ratios. If a bank’s statewide ratio is less than one-half of the yearly published host state ratio, an additional review is required by the appropriate agency, which involves a determination of whether a bank is reasonably helping to meet the credit needs of the communities served by the bank’s interstate branches.
On May 16, the Federal Reserve Board (Board) announced an enforcement action against a Nebraska-based bank for allegedly violating the National Flood Insurance Act (NFIA) and Regulation H, which implements the NFIA. The consent order assesses a $69,000 penalty against the bank, but does not specify the number or the precise nature of the alleged violations. The maximum civil money penalty for a pattern or practice of violations under the NFIA is $2,000 per violation.
The same day, the Board issued an order of prohibition against a former employee and institution-affiliated party of an Illinois-based bank for allegedly engaging in unsafe and unsound lending practices, including engaging in improper lending practices and failing to implement adequate Bank Secrecy Act/anti-money laundering controls and training. The terms of the order prohibit the individual from, among other things, “participating in any manner in the conduct of the affairs of any financial institution or organization specified in section 8(e)(9)(A) of the [Federal Deposit Insurance Act],” or “voting for a director, or serving or acting as an institution-affiliated party.”
On April 25, the Federal Reserve Board announced an enforcement action against a Japanese bank for alleged weaknesses in its New York branch’s anti-money laundering risk management and compliance programs, including a failure to comply with applicable rules and regulations, including the Bank Secrecy Act. Under the terms of the order, the bank is required to, among other things, (i) develop and implement a written plan to strengthen the board of directors’ oversight of Bank Secrecy Act/anti-money laundering (BSA/AML) compliance and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations; (ii) submit an enhanced written compliance program that complies with BSA/AML requirements; (iii) submit an enhanced, written customer due diligence plan; (iv) submit a written program to ensure compliant, timely, and accurate suspicious activity monitoring and reporting; (v) submit a written plan to enhance OFAC regulation compliance; and (vi) submit a written plan for independent testing of the bank’s compliance with all applicable BSA/AML requirements. A civil money penalty was not assessed against the bank or the branch.
On April 23, the Federal Reserve Board issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) and request for comment to simplify and increase transparency of existing rules for determining if a company has control over a banking organization under the Bank Holding Company Act and the Home Owners’ Loan Act. Among other things, the NPRM will “provide a series of presumptions of control for use by the Board in control proceedings and other control determinations,” and will create a tiered structure premised on the level of voting ownership—5 percent, 10 percent, and 15 percent—of one company in another company. The Board noted it will also consider several additional factors, such as (i) the size of a company’s voting and total equity investment; (ii) rights to director and committee representation; (iii) use of proxy solicitations; (iv) individuals serving as management, employees, and directors at both companies; (v) agreements permitting influence or restrictions on management or operational decisions; and (vi) the scope of business relationships between the companies. The NPRM also contains a new proposed presumption of “noncontrol,” which will apply in instances where a company owns less than 10 percent of the voting securities of a second company and does not trigger any of the presumptions of control. According to a statement issued by Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles, the NPRM is designed to address concerns that “it has been difficult for banking firms and investors in banking firms to determine whether a particular proposed investment could give rise to control.” Comments on the NPRM are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
On April 16, the FDIC issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) and request for comment on modifications to its resolution planning framework (known as living wills) for insured depository institutions with over $50 billion in assets. According to the FDIC, the ANPR is considering three changes to streamline the process: (i) creating tiered planning requirements for living wills based on an institution’s size, complexity, and other factors; (ii) revising the frequency and required content of resolution plan submissions, including eliminating living will submission requirements for certain smaller and less complex institutions; and (iii) improving communication between the FDIC and banks on resolution planning. According to a statement issued by FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams, the ANPR also proposes two alternative concepts for consideration: “Broadly, either approach would require large, complex institutions to continue to submit periodic resolution plans, streamlined compared to the existing plans. Institutions that are relatively smaller and less complex but still subject to the rule would no longer need to submit actual plans, but would still be subject to periodic engagement and capabilities testing.” Comments on the ANPR are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
On April 9, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) released responses to inquiries sent last month to the Federal Reserve Board, the OCC, and the CFPB, which expressed, among other things, concern about the level of response taken by a national bank regarding its auto-lending practices, as well as the bank’s remediation plans and compliance risk management efforts. In response, the regulators individually discussed the bank’s progress to satisfy its obligations under existing consent orders.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell wrote that the asset cap imposed on the bank will remain in place until the bank has implemented—to the Board’s satisfaction—remedies to address risk management breakdowns. Powell noted that the bank and the Board are comprehensively addressing the progress.
OCC Comptroller Joseph Otting emphasized that the agency continues “to monitor the bank’s work to remediate deficiencies” identified in previously issued orders, and commented that while the OCC is disappointed with the bank’s current corporate governance and risk management programs, it “is fully engaged and prepared to bring [the bank’s] matters to resolution.”
CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger stated that “while the Bureau is working with [the bank] to ensure its compliance with the consent order, I am not satisfied with the [b]ank’s progress to date and have instructed staff to take all appropriate actions to ensure the [b]ank complies with the consent order and [f]ederal consumer financial law.”
On April 15, U.S. regulators announced settlements totaling $1.3 billion with several banking units of a German-headquartered financial institution to resolve allegations by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the DOJ, the Federal Reserve Board, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), and the New York County District Attorney’s Office of apparent violations of multiple sanctions programs, including those related to Burma, Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan, and Syria. According to OFAC’s announcement, between January 2007 and December 2011, the institution’s banking units in Germany, Austria, and Italy processed thousands of payments through U.S. financial institutions on behalf of sanctioned entities “in a manner that did not disclose underlying sanctioned persons or countries to U.S. financial institutions which were acting as financial intermediaries.”
According to the roughly $611 million combined settlement agreements (see here, here, and here), OFAC considered various aggravating factors, and noted, among other things, that the institution’s banking units failed to sufficiently enforce policies addressing OFAC sanctions concerns or restrict the processing of transactions in U.S. dollars involving persons or countries subject to sanctions programs administered by OFAC. Additionally, OFAC asserted that the Austrian banking unit claimed on several occasions that OFAC’s sanctions programs “were not legally binding or relevant to [the bank].” OFAC further stated that while the banking units failed to voluntarily self-disclose the alleged violations, they have each agreed to implement and maintain compliance commitments to minimize the risk of the recurrence of the alleged conduct.
The approximate $611 million penalty will be deemed satisfied by the banking units’ payments to other U.S. regulators, which includes an almost $317 million forfeiture and roughly $468 million fine to the DOJ, $158 million fine to the Federal Reserve, and $405 million fine to the NYDFS.
On April 9, U.S. and U.K regulators announced that a London-based global financial institution would pay $1.1 billion to settle allegations by the DOJ, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the Federal Reserve Board, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), the Manhattan District Attorney, and the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for allegedly violating multiple sanctions programs, including those related to Burma, Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria. According to the OFAC announcement, from June 2009 until May 2014, the institution processed thousands of transactions involving persons or countries subject to sanctions programs administered by OFAC, but the majority of the actions at issue concern Iran-related accounts maintained by the institution’s Dubai branches. OFAC alleged the Dubai branches processed transactions through the institution’s New York branches on behalf of customers that were physically located or ordinarily resident in Iran.
According to the $639 million settlement agreement, OFAC noted, among other things, that the institution “acted with reckless disregard and failed to exercise a minimal degree of caution or care” with respect to the actions at issue. Moreover, OFAC alleged that the institution had actual knowledge or reason to know its compliance program was “inadequate to manage the [the institution]’s risk.” OFAC considered numerous mitigating factors, including that the institution’s substantial cooperation throughout the investigation and its undertaking of remedial efforts to avoid similar violations from occurring in the future.
The $639 million penalty will be deemed satisfied by the institution’s payments to other U.S. regulators, which includes, $240 million forfeiture and $480 million fine to the DOJ, $164 million fine to the Federal Reserve, and $180 million fine to the NYDFS. The institution also settled with the FCA for $133 million. The settlement illustrates the risks to foreign financial institutions associated with compliance lapses when processing transactions through the U.S. financial system.
On April 8, the Federal Reserve Board announced a notice of proposed rulemaking and request for comment (NPRM) seeking to modify its regulation of the regulatory capital requirements for U.S. subsidiaries of foreign banking organizations. Chairman Jerome Powell referred to a proposal issued last fall for refining regulations for domestic banking firms based on risk profiles (previously covered by InfoBytes here), and noted that “because the U.S. operations of most foreign banks tend to have a larger cross-border profile, greater capital markets activities, and higher levels of short-term funding, they often present greater risk than a simpler, more traditional domestic bank.”
The NPRM builds upon the Federal Reserve’s framework for U.S. firms announced last fall, and states that foreign banking organizations with $100 billion or more in U.S. assets would be assigned to one of three categories based on the size of their U.S. operations as well as the following risk-based indicators: “cross-jurisdictional activity, nonbank assets, off-balance sheet exposure, and weighted short-term wholesale funding.” Under the proposal, foreign banking organizations would be classified into the following three categories: (i) Category II: foreign banking organizations with U.S. assets exceeding $700 billion or $75 billion in cross-border activity; (ii) Category III: foreign banking organizations with more than $250 billion in U.S. assets that also exceed certain risk thresholds; and (iii) Category IV: foreign banking organizations with U.S. assets between $100 billion and $250 billion and minimal risk factors. Category I would be reserved for U.S.-based global systemically important banks.
A second proposal issued the same day by the Federal Reserve Board, the FDIC, and the OCC (collectively, the “Agencies”) requests comment on, among other things, whether the Agencies should extend standardized liquidity requirements to foreign banking organizations’ U.S.-based branches and agency networks as well as approaches for doing so.
Comments on both proposals are due June 21.
- APPROVED Webcast: Introducing Mogy — APPROVED’s licensing technology solution
- Hank Asbill to discuss "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain: Addressing prosecutions driven by hidden actors" at the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers West Coast White Collar Conference
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Mid-year policy update" at the ACAMS AML Risk Management Conference
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Keep off the grass: Mitigating the risks of banking marijuana-related businesses" at the ACAMS AML Risk Management Conference
- Christopher M. Witeck and Moorari K. Shah to discuss "The latest in vendor management regulations" at a Mortgage Bankers Association webinar
- Buckley Webcast: Hot topics in debt collection — An analysis of recent federal FDCPA litigation
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "How to succeed in law school" at the SEO Law DC Panel Discussions
- Amanda R. Lawrence to discuss "Navigating the challenges of the latest data protection regulations and proven protocols for breach prevention and response" at the ACI National Forum on Consumer Finance Class Actions and Government Enforcement
- Benjamin W. Hutten to discuss "Requirements for banking inherently high-risk relationships" at the Georgia Bankers Association BSA Experience Program
- Brandy A. Hood to discuss "RESPA Section 8/referrals: How do you stay compliant?" at the New England Mortgage Bankers Conference
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Lessons learned from recent enforcement actions and CMPs" at the ACAMS AML & Financial Crime Conference
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Assessing the CDD final rule: A year of transitions" at the ACAMS AML & Financial Crime Conference