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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

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  • Agencies seek comments on proposed changes to CECL

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    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.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC Department of Treasury Federal Reserve FDIC NCUA

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  • District Court allows NCUA to substitute plaintiff, denies dismissal of breach of contract claim in RMBS action

    Courts

    On October 15, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York held that the NCUA may substitute a new plaintiff to represent the agency’s claims in a residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) action against an international bank serving as an RMBS trustee. In the same order, the court dismissed certain tort claims, but allowed claims for breach of contract to move forward against the trustee.

    According to the opinion, NCUA brought the action on behalf of 97 trusts for which the international bank served as the trustee, even though NCUA only had direct interest in eight of the trusts. NCUA argued it had derivative standing to pursue the claims on behalf of the other 89 trusts “on the theory that it had a latent interest in the [the 89 trusts] after they wound down and as ‘an express third-party beneficiary under the [89 trusts] Indenture Agreements.’” The trustee moved to dismiss the action and after hearing oral arguments on the motion, the court stayed the case pending the outcome of NCUA’s appeal regarding derivative standing in similar action before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In August 2018, the 2nd Circuit held that NCUA lacked standing to bring the derivative claims because the trusts had granted the right, title, and interest to their assets, including the RMBS trusts, to the Indenture Trustee. (Previously covered by InfoBytes here.) Based on the appellate court decision in the similar action, NCUA moved to file a second amended complaint and substitute a newly appointed trustee as plaintiff for the claims made on behalf of the 89 trusts for which it did not have direct standing.

    Despite the trustee’s objections, the district court granted NCUA’s request, concluding that NCUA’s claims were timely and allowing the NCUA’s “Extender Statute”—which gives the agency the ability to bring contract claims at “the longer of” “the 6-year period beginning on the date the claim accrues” or “the period applicable under State law”—to apply to the new substitute plaintiff. Additionally, the court denied the bank’s motion to dismiss NCUA’s breach of contract claim alleging the trustee had notice of the defects in the mortgage files held in the various trusts. The court concluded that NCUA sufficiently plead that the trustee “did indeed receive notice [of the defective mortgages] and should have thus acted,” under the Pooling and Servicing Agreements.

    Courts RMBS NCUA Appellate Second Circuit Standing Securities

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  • NCUA approves additional payday loan alternative

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On September 19, the NCUA announced the approval of a final rule creating a new payday alternative loan product (PAL II). As previously covered by InfoBytes, in June 2018, NCUA proposed the PAL II as an additional offering to the current payday alternative loan product (PAL I), which has been available since 2010. PAL II includes most features of PAL I except that it (i) eliminates a loan minimum and sets the maximum at $2,000; (ii) requires a minimum loan term of one month and a maximum of 12 months; and (iii) does not contain a requirement for the minimum length of a membership. Moreover, federal credit unions are restricted to offering only one type of PAL loan to a member at any given time. All prior requirements of PAL I loans, such as the prohibition against rollovers, the limit on the number of loans a single borrower can take in a given period, and full amortization, remain in effect. The final rule will be effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance NCUA Payday Lending Federal Register Credit Union

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  • NCUA allows credit unions to serve hemp businesses

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On August 19, the NCUA released interim guidance allowing federally insured credit unions to service hemp businesses. The guidance notes that, as of December 20, hemp is no longer a controlled substance at the federal level—the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) removed hemp from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. However, hemp may not be produced lawfully under federal law, beyond a 2014 pilot program, until the USDA promulgates regulations and guidelines to implement the hemp production provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill. The guidance instructs credit unions to be aware of federal, state, and tribal laws and regulations that apply to any hemp-related businesses they may service and to have Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) compliance programs equal to the level of complexity and risks involved. The guidance emphasizes that lending to lawfully operating hemp-related businesses is permissible, but that the lending must be done in accordance with NCUA’s regulations for lending, and appropriate underwriting standards must be considered. NCUA notes that the guidance will be updated once the USDA regulations are finalized.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance NCUA Credit Union Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering

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  • Federal banking agencies and FinCEN issue statement on risk-focused BSA/AML examinations

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On July 22, the Federal Reserve Board, FDIC, NCUA, and the OCC along with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), released a joint statement to improve transparency of their risk-focused approach to Bank Secrecy Act/anti-money laundering (BSA/AML) supervision. The statement outlines common practices for assessing a bank’s risk profile, including (i) leveraging available information, including internal BSA/AML risk assessments, independent audits, and results from previous examinations; (ii) contacting banks between examinations or before finalizing the scope of an examination; and (iii) considering the bank’s ability to identify, measure, monitor, and control risks. Examiners will use the information from the risk assessments to scope and plan the examination, as well as to evaluate the adequacy of the bank’s BSA/AML compliance program. The statement notes that the extent of examination activities needed to evaluate a bank’s BSA/AML compliance program, “generally depends on a bank’s risk profile and the quality of its risk management processes.”

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FDIC OCC NCUA Federal Reserve FinCEN Financial Crimes Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering Supervision Examination

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  • Agencies issue joint statement on Midwest flood disaster relief

    Federal Issues

    On March 25, the OCC, Federal Reserve Board, FDIC, NCUA, and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (collectively, the “agencies”) issued a joint statement providing guidance to financial institutions impacted by flooding in the Midwest. In the statement, the agencies encourage lenders to work with borrowers in impacted communities and to consider, among other things (i) modifying existing loans based on the facts and circumstances; and (ii) requesting expedited approval to operate temporary bank facilities if faced with operational difficulties. The agencies ask institutions to contact their appropriate federal and/or state regulator if they experience disaster-related difficulties complying with publishing or regulatory reporting requirements. The agencies further note that institutions may receive favorable Community Reinvestment Act consideration for community development loans, investments, and services in support of disaster recovery. The statement also provides links to previously issued examiner guidance for institutions affected by major disasters.

    Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on disaster relief here.

    Federal Issues OCC Federal Reserve FDIC NCUA CSBS Consumer Finance Disaster Relief

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  • Banking agencies issue final rule on private flood insurance

    Federal Issues

    On February 12, the Federal Reserve Board, Farm Credit Administration, FDIC, National Credit Union Administration, and the OCC issued a joint final rule amending regulations governing loans secured by properties in special flood hazard areas to implement the provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 concerning private flood insurance. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the provisions, among other things, require regulated lending institutions to accept policies that meet the statutory definition of “private flood insurance,” and clarify that lending institutions may choose to accept private policies that do not meet the statutory criteria for “private flood insurance,” provided the policies meet certain criteria and the lending institutions document that the policies offer “sufficient protection for a designated loan, consistent with general safety and soundness principles.” The final rule takes effect July 1.

    (See also FDIC FIL-8-2019, NCUA press release, and OCC press release.)

    Federal Issues Federal Reserve OCC FDIC NCUA Farm Credit Administration Flood Insurance National Flood Insurance Act Flood Disaster Protection Act National Flood Insurance Program

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  • Final rule subject to approval will require federally regulated lending institutions to accept private flood insurance

    Federal Issues

    Recently, the FDIC and OCC approved a joint final rule governing the acceptance of private flood insurance policies. (The final rule must also be approved by—and is still under review with—the other agencies jointly issuing the rule: the Federal Reserve Board, Farm Credit Administration, and National Credit Union Association.) The final rule amends regulations governing loans secured by properties in special flood hazard areas to implement the provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (Biggert Waters) concerning private flood insurance (see previous InfoBytes coverage of the proposed rule here). The National Flood Insurance Act and the Flood Disaster Protection Act require flood insurance on improved property that secures a loan made, increased, extended, or renewed by a federally regulated lending institution (lending institution) if the property is in a special flood hazard area for which flood insurance is available under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Biggert Waters required the Agencies to adopt regulations directing lending institutions to accept insurance that meets the definition of “private flood insurance” in lieu of NFIP flood insurance.

    The final rule, once approved by all five regulators, will institute the following provisions to take effect July 1:

    • Lending institutions must accept private flood insurance policies meeting the definition of “private flood insurance.”
    • Lending institutions may rely on a “streamlined compliance aid provision” to determine, without further review, that a policy meet the definition of “private flood insurance” if the policy (or an endorsement to the policy) contains the following language: “This policy meets the definition of private flood insurance contained in 42 U.S.C. 4012a(b)(7) and the corresponding regulation.”
    • Lending institutions may choose to accept private policies that do not meet the statutory criteria for “private flood insurance” as long as the policies meet certain criteria and the lending institutions document that the policies offer “sufficient protection for a designated loan, consistent with general safety and soundness principles.”
    • Lending institutions may exercise discretion when accepting non-traditional flood coverage issued by “mutual aid societies,” subject to certain conditions including that the lending institutions’ primary federal supervisory agency has determined that the plans qualify as flood insurance. However, the final rule does not require lending institutions to accept coverage issued by mutual aid societies.

    Federal Issues Federal Reserve OCC FDIC NCUA Farm Credit Administration Flood Insurance National Flood Insurance Act Flood Disaster Protection Act National Flood Insurance Program

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  • Regulators encourage financial institutions to work with borrowers impacted by government shutdown; FHA also issues shutdown guidance

    Federal Issues

    On January 11, the Federal Reserve Board, CSBS, CFPB, FDIC, NCUA, and OCC (together, the “Agencies”) released a joint statement (see also FDIC FIL-1-2019) to encourage financial institutions to work with consumers impacted by the federal government shutdown. According to the Agencies, borrowers may face temporary hardships when making payments on mortgages, student loans, auto loans, business loans, or credit cards. FDIC FIL-1-2019 states that prudent workout arrangements, such as extending new credit, waiving fees, easing limits on credit cards, allowing deferred or skipped payments, modifying existing loan terms, and delaying delinquency notice submissions to credit bureaus, will not be subject to examiner criticism provided the efforts are “consistent with safe-and-sound lending practices.”

    Separately, on January 8, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner Brian Montgomery issued a letter regarding the shutdown reminding FHA-approved lenders and mortgagees of their ongoing obligation to offer special forbearance to borrowers experiencing loss of income and to evaluate borrowers for available loss mitigation options to prevent foreclosures. In addition, FHA also encourages mortgagees and lenders to waive late fees and suspend credit reporting on affected borrowers.

    Federal Issues Federal Reserve OCC FDIC CSBS NCUA FHA Consumer Lending Mortgages Credit Report Shutdown Relief

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  • Agencies encourage financial institutions to explore innovative industry approaches to BSA/AML compliance

    Financial Crimes

    On December 3, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) released a joint statement along with federal banking agencies—the Federal Reserve Board, FDIC, NCUA, and OCC (together, the “agencies”)—to encourage banks and credit unions to explore innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence, digital identity technologies, and internal financial intelligence units to combat money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illicit financial threats when safeguarding the financial system. According to the agencies, private sector innovation and the adoption of new technologies can enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of Bank Secrecy Act/anti-money laundering (BSA/AML) compliance programs. Moreover, new innovations and technologies can also enhance transaction monitoring systems. Specifically, the agencies urged banks to test innovative programs to explore the use of artificial intelligence. However, the agencies emphasized that while feedback on innovative programs may be provided, the “pilot programs in and of themselves should not subject banks to supervisory criticism even if the pilot programs ultimately prove unsuccessful. Likewise, pilot programs that expose gaps in a BSA/AML compliance program will not necessarily result in supervisory action with respect to that program.” The joint statement further specifies that the agencies will be willing to grant exceptive relief from BSA regulatory requirements to facilitate pilot programs, “provided that banks maintain the overall effectiveness of their BSA/AML compliance programs.” However, banks that maintain effective compliance programs but choose not to innovate will not be penalized or criticized.

    According to Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker, “[a]s money launderers and other illicit actors constantly evolve their tactics, we want the compliance community to likewise adapt their efforts to counter these threats,” pointing to the recent use of innovative technologies to identify and report illicit financial activity related to both Iran and North Korea.

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, earlier in October the agencies provided guidance on resource sharing between banks and credit unions in order to more efficiently and effectively manage their BSA/AML obligations.

    (See also Federal Reserve Board press release, FDIC press release and FIL-79-2018, NCUA press release, and OCC press release and Bulletin 2018-44.)

    Financial Crimes Department of Treasury FinCEN Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering Federal Reserve FDIC NCUA OCC Artificial Intelligence Bank Compliance

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