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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • Special Alert: FinCEN extends AML program, other requirements to banks without federal regulators

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On September 14, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a final rule to align Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) requirements applicable to most banks with the requirements applicable to banks lacking a “federal functional regulator.” In particular, the final rule will require all non-federally regulated banks — including private banks, non-federally insured credit unions, and certain trust companies — to establish and implement anti-money-laundering (AML) programs and customer identification programs (CIP).

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Financial Crimes FinCEN Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering Special Alerts

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  • Special Alert: HUD finalizes new disparate impact regulation

    Federal Issues

    The Department of Housing and Urban Development earlier this month issued a final disparate impact regulation under the Fair Housing Act (Final Rule). HUD’s new Final Rule is intended to align its disparate impact regulation, adopted in 2013 (2013 Rule), with the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. (Inclusive Communities). While the new Final Rule is a notable development, the relatively recent Supreme Court decision makes it unclear to what extent courts and federal agencies will look to the rule for guidance.

    Federal Issues HUD Disparate Impact Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Fair Housing Act FHA Fair Lending Special Alerts

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  • Special Alert: California’s new consumer financial protection law expands UDAAP and enforcement authority

    State Issues

    On Monday, August 31, the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 1864, which enacts the California Consumer Financial Protection Law (CCFPL) and changes the name of the Department of Business Oversight (DBO) to the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI).

    Key takeaways

    • Establishes UDAAP authority for the new DFPI, adding “abusive” to “unfair or deceptive” acts or practices prohibited by California law, and authorizing remedies similar to those provided in the Dodd-Frank Act. The DFPI also has authority to define UDAAPs in connection with the offering or provision of commercial financing (e.g., merchant cash advance, lease financing, factoring) and other financial products or services to small business recipients, nonprofits, and family farms.

    State Issues State Legislation CDBO UDAAP Consumer Finance Consumer Protection Special Alerts Merchant Cash Advance

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  • Special Alert: FinCEN outlines approach to BSA enforcement

    Financial Crimes

    On August 18, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which has overall responsibility for administering the Bank Secrecy Act, issued a short statement that, for the first time, publicly outlined its approach to BSA enforcement. Of note, FinCEN indicated that it will not base enforcement actions on an institution’s failure to comply with standards announced solely in a guidance document. Additionally, for the first time, FinCEN listed a nonexhaustive set of factors it will use to determine what enforcement steps should be taken. The statement leaves FinCEN with considerable flexibility in enforcing the BSA, and raises a number of questions for legal and compliance professionals.

    The statement will be of most interest to “financial institutions,” which under the BSA include a wide swath of financial services companies, that are not subject to supervision by a federal prudential regulator authorized to enforce compliance with the BSA; most prudential regulators have their own enforcement guidelines, and the federal banking agencies recently issued a joint statement on BSA enforcement. Companies subject to FinCEN’s BSA enforcement authority, particularly those such as money services businesses without federal prudential regulators, may wish to familiarize themselves with FinCEN’s enforcement factors and tailor their compliance efforts accordingly. The statement also provides implicit guidance on what actions institutions should take upon identification of a potential violation.

    Financial Crimes FinCEN Bank Secrecy Act Bank Supervision Special Alerts Of Interest to Non-US Persons

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  • Special Alert: CFPB proposes new Qualified Mortgage definition for Seasoned QMs

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On August 18, the CFPB released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to create a new category of Qualified Mortgages to be called “Seasoned QMs”.  The CFPB concluded that if a loan has performed for a long enough period of time and meets certain underwriting conditions and product restrictions, it is warranted to conclusively presume that the creditor’s determination of a consumer’s ability to repay at consummation was reasonable.  The new QM category would designate the loan as a safe harbor QM, even if the loan did not meet the criteria of any of the other QM definitions at consummation.

    Under the NPRM, a loan originated as a rebuttable presumption QM or as a Non-QM loan will be granted a safe harbor presumption that it complies with the ATR requirements if it (1) meets certain product restrictions and (2) is held in portfolio during the seasoning period and meets specified performance criteria.  The product restrictions require that (1) the loan is secured by a first lien; (2) the loan has a fixed rate, with fully amortizing payments and no balloon payment; (3) the loan term does not exceed 30 years; and (4) the total points and fees do not exceed specified limits.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB Mortgages Ability To Repay Qualified Mortgage Special Alerts

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  • Special Alert: CFPB takes first-ever agency redlining action against nonbank lender

    Federal Issues

    On July 15, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau filed a complaint against a Chicago-based nonbank mortgage company alleging fair lending violations predicated, in part, on statements made by the company’s owner and other employees during radio shows and podcasts from 2014 through 2017. The complaint, filed in federal court in Illinois, marks the first instance in which a federal regulator has taken a public enforcement action against a nondepository institution based on allegations of redlining.  

    According to the CFPB, the mortgage company violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Consumer Financial Protection Act by engaging in discriminatory marketing and applicant outreach practices that allegedly:

    Federal Issues CFPB Enforcement Mortgages Fair Lending ECOA CFPA Nonbank Redlining Special Alerts

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  • Special Alert: Supreme Court preserves CFPB through severance

    Federal Issues

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday issued its long-awaited opinion in Seila Law LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, with a 5-4 split along ideological lines holding that the structure of the CFPB is unconstitutional. Specifically, the clause in the underlying statute that requires cause to remove the director of the CFPB violates the constitutional separation of powers. In a plurality opinion representing three of the justices in the majority, the court further held that the removal provision could — and should — be severed from the statute establishing the CFPB, rather than invalidating the entire statute. While various aspects of the decision could lead to further constitutional challenges, the reasoning of the opinion was based in large part on the preservation of a regulatory framework that is now almost a decade old.

    Chief Justice Roberts issued an opinion holding the removal provision unconstitutional but finding that it could be severed from the remainder of the statute. The first portion of the opinion was joined by Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh, and therefore is the opinion of the court. The severance analysis, however, was joined only by Justices Alito and Kavanaugh. Justice Thomas, in a separate opinion joined by Justice Gorsuch, concurred on the constitutional question but dissented on severance. Justice Kagan, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor, issued a third opinion dissenting from the court’s opinion on the constitutional question but concurring in the judgment that “if the agency’s removal provision is unconstitutional, it should be severed.” (Kagan Dissent, at 37). Justice Kagan’s opinion did not offer any further analysis of the severance issue, nor did she state that she concurred in Chief Justice Roberts’s opinion on that issue. Therefore, none of the three opinions commanded a majority of the court on the severance issue.

    Federal Issues CFPB Single-Director Structure Seila Law Special Alerts

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  • Special Alert: CFPB proposes changes to qualified mortgage definition; delays expiration of “GSE patch” until final rule becomes effective

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On June 22, the CFPB released two Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to address the January 2021 expiration of the so-called GSE Patch for the Qualified Mortgage (QM) Rule. The GSE Patch provided QM status to mortgage loans eligible for purchase by either of the GSEs even if the loans did not otherwise meet the criteria for a QM under the “General QM” standard provided they comply with the same loan-feature prohibitions and points-and-fees limits as General QM loans. Notably, the GSE Patch allows loans to exceed the 43 percent debt-to-income ratio limit required under the General QM standard and also does not require creditors to use Appendix Q to Regulation Z to calculate the consumer’s income and debt. 

    In the first NPRM, the Bureau proposes to remove the General QM loan definition’s 43 percent DTI limit and replace it with a price-based threshold. In the second NPRM, the Bureau proposes to delay the expiration of the GSE Patch until the effective date of final amendments to the General QM definition in order to facilitate a smooth and orderly transition away from the GSE Patch definition of a Qualified Mortgage.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB Qualified Mortgage GSE Mortgages Special Alerts

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  • Special Alert: OCC adopts final rule addressing Madden

    Federal Issues

    On Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks’ first day in that role, the OCC issued a final rule designed to effectively reverse the Second Circuit’s 2015 Madden v. Midland Funding decision.[1] As published in yesterday’s Federal Register, the rule, titled “Permissible Interest on Loans that are Sold, Assigned, or Otherwise Transferred,” provides that “[i]nterest on a loan that is permissible under [12 U.S.C. 85 for national bank or 12 U.S.C 1463(g)(1) for federal thrifts] shall not be affected by the sale, assignment, or other transfer of the loan.” This rule contrasts with the Madden decision’s conclusion that a purchaser of a loan originated by a national bank could not charge interest at the rate permissible for the bank if that rate would be impermissible under the lower usury cap applicable to the purchaser. More specifically, the Madden court found that subjecting assignees to state usury law under these circumstances does not “significantly interfere” with the exercise of national bank powers -- the general preemption standard set forth in the Dodd Frank Act.[2]  

    Federal Issues Special Alerts OCC Madden Interest Rate Usury Fintech

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  • Special Alert: California Assembly to introduce legislation for Covid-19-related relief for mortgage loans, vehicle-secured credit, PACE financing, and deferred deposit transactions

    State Issues

    We understand that the California State Assembly will shortly propose amendments to Assembly Bill No. 2501 to create the “COVID-19 Homeowner, Tenant, and Consumer Relief Law of 2020.” As of posting of this Alert, the proposed legislation is not available on California’s legislative service website.  The proposed law would provide relief to homeowners, tenants, and vehicle owners by prohibiting creditors and loan servicers from taking specified actions, including initiating foreclosures or repossessions, during the period from the date of enactment of the proposed law through the 180-day period following the date that California Governor Gavin Newsom declares the emergency related to Covid-19 has ended. Additionally, the proposed law would require servicers to place certain loans that become delinquent into automatic forbearance for a period of at least six months.

    The proposed law appears similar to portions of an appropriations bill, “Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act,” which was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on March 23, 2020, prior to the enactment of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and failed to pass. We understand that the proposed law is scheduled to be heard before the California State Assembly Banking Committee on May 19.

    State Issues State Legislation CARES Act Covid-19 California Consumer Finance Mortgages Auto Finance PACE Programs Deferred Deposits Special Alerts

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