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  • NIST Publishes Recommendations for Establishing Governance Structure for Implementation of National Trusted Identities Strategy

    Fintech

    On February 7, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published a report with recommendations for developing a governance system to implement the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC). The NSTIC directs the federal government to work with private sector stakeholders to establish and maintain an identity ecosystem for internet transactions aimed at  promoting trust, privacy, and security. The report summarizes comments received in response to a June 2011 Notice of Inquiry (NOI) that sought public input regarding the establishment and structure of a private sector-led steering group to implement the NSTIC. Based on those comments, stakeholder workshops, and best practices from similar governance efforts, the report presents recommendations in four areas:  (i) steering group initiation, (ii) steering group structure, (iii) stakeholder representation, and (iv) international coordination. The report also includes a recommended charter to establish the steering group and notes that, subject to public comment and finalization of the approach outlined in the report, NIST intends to initiate a competitive grant program to fund a secretariat responsible for convening the initial steering group.

    NIST Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security

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  • Buckley Sandler Litigators Obtain Dismissal in FCPA Sting Criminal Trial

    Financial Crimes

    Today, U.S. federal prosecutors abandoned one of the highest profile Foreign Corrupt Practices Act cases ever brought by the DOJ. Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted the government’s motion to dismiss foreign bribery charges against all remaining defendants facing charges from an FBI sting operation. The defendants were charged with paying bribes to a purported government official from the country of Gabon in connection with contracts to supply Gabon with military and law enforcement products. The government sting operation resulted in the arrests of twenty-two individuals at an industry trade show in Las Vegas in 2010.

    BuckleySandler represented John Mushriqui in the case, and in January successfully obtained a mistrial for Mr. Mushriqui following a nearly four-month jury trial after a federal jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict for Mr. Mushriqui and two other defendants, including his sister Jeana Mushriqui.

    The mistrial ruling followed the same jury’s acquittal of two other defendants, Judge Leon’s acquittal of another defendant in December 2011, and a July 2011 mistrial involving four other defendants involved in the sting. Between the two Gabon sting trials to date, three defendants were acquitted and seven proceeded to a hung jury. In the face of these outcomes, the government decided to abandon the case with regard to all remaining defendants and will not seek to re-try the defendants whose previous trials ended in a mistrial. The government stated in its motion that it had "carefully considered (1) the outcomes of the first two trials in which, after extensive deliberations, the juries remained hung as to seven defendants and acquitted two defendants, and one defendant was acquitted on the sole charge against him pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 29; (2) the impact of certain evidentiary and other legal rulings in the first two trials and the implications of those rulings for future trials, including with respect to Rule 404(b) and other knowledge and intent evidence the government proposed to introduce; and (3) the substantial governmental resources, as well as judicial, defense, and jury resources, that would be necessary to proceed with another four or more trials, given that the first two trials combined lasted approximately six months. In light of all of the foregoing, the government respectfully submits that continued prosecution of this case is not warranted under the circumstances."

    BuckleySandler’s David Krakoff, who represented Mr. Mushriqui at trial along with counsel Lauren Randell, responded to the dismissal stating, “We are extremely pleased that the Department of Justice has decided to do the right thing by moving to dismiss the Indictment against our client John Mushriqui, ending his two year nightmare. We recognize that this was a difficult decision given the substantial resources that the government invested in this case. It's really hard to take on the government, but when you believe in your innocence and fight for your freedom, these cases can be won. Ultimately, the system worked for John Mushriqui. John can start the rest of his life today with his good name intact.”

    FCPA

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  • CFPB Proposes Rule to Define "Larger Participants" in the Consumer Debt Collection And Consumer Reporting Markets

    Consumer Finance

    On February 16, the CFPB released a proposed rule to define “larger participants” in the markets for consumer debt collection and consumer reporting, thereby beginning the process by which the CFPB will determine which such entities are subject to its supervision. In short, the proposal uses annual receipts as the metric for determining larger participants. Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB has authority to supervise, regardless of size, nonbanks that provide to consumers (i) origination, brokerage, or servicing of residential mortgage loans secured by real estate, and related mortgage loan modification or foreclosure relief services; (ii) private education loans; and (iii) payday loans. The CFPB also has the power to supervise “larger participants” in any other market for consumer financial products or services, and the Act grants the CFPB authority to define “larger participants.” In this first effort to define larger participants in specific markets, the CFPB proposes to supervise debt collectors with more than $10 million in annual receipts from debt collection activities, which would cover approximately 175 debt collection firms that collectively account for 63 percent of annual receipts from the debt collection market. Consumer reporting agencies with more than $7 million in annual receipts from consumer reporting activities also would be covered, capturing approximately seven percent of consumer reporting agencies, or about 30 firms, which the CFPB estimates account for approximately 94 percent of the annual receipts from consumer reporting. Stakeholders and the public can submit comments on the proposal through April 17, 2012. The CFPB plans to issue larger participant proposed rules for other markets. Final rules for all markets must be published by July 21, 2012.

    CFPB Dodd-Frank Nonbank Supervision

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  • Legislators Move Forward on Bill to Address Non-Waiver of Privileged Documents Submitted to CFPB

    Consumer Finance

    Pfizer resolve FCPA matter with US DOJ and SEC related to conduct of subsidiaries in Bulgaria, China, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Italy, Kazakhstan, Russia and Serbia; total sanction exceeds $60 million.

    CFPB Examination

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  • CFPB Issues Draft Monthly Mortgage Statement, Outlines Future Mortgage Servicing Rules

    Lending

    On February 13, the CFPB released a draft model monthly mortgage statement designed to help implement Dodd-Frank Act amendments to the Truth in Lending Act that require such statements. The CFPB acknowledges that many financial institutions already provide monthly statements to borrowers. However, the Dodd-Frank Act requires specific information to be provided in regular statements, including (i) the principal amount, (ii) the current interest rate, (iii) the interest rate reset date, (iv) a description of late or prepayment fees, (v) housing counselor information, (vi) certain contact information, and (vii) other information prescribed by CFPB regulations. The CFPB has been testing the draft model statement with consumers and now is seeking broader public comment though its website. After this informal comment period ends, the CFPB will proceed to a formal rulemaking through which it will set the requirements for monthly statements and provide a model form for use in complying with the new rules. Institutions will have some flexibility to adjust the model. One day prior, CFPB Director Richard Cordray published an op-ed in which he outlined additional agency efforts regarding mortgage servicing, including future rules that would restrict the use of force-placed insurance and require additional disclosures relating to hybrid adjustable rate-mortgages.

    CFPB Dodd-Frank Mortgage Servicing

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  • FFETF Launches Federal-State Financial Fraud Consumer Protection Working

    Financial Crimes

    On February 10, the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) launched the Consumer Protection Working Group, which is charged with coordinating federal and state law enforcement and regulatory efforts to address consumer financial fraud, including fraud targeting unemployed persons, students, active-duty military personnel and veterans. The group is co-chaired by Assistant Attorneys General Tony West and Lanny Breuer, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California André Birotte, Director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection David Vladek, and CFPB Director of Enforcement Kent Markus. The Department of Justice’s press release states that meeting participants set priorities for the group as it seeks to address fraud in (i) payday lending, (ii) high-pressure telemarketing and Internet scams, (iii) business opportunity schemes, (iv) for-profit colleges, and (v) third-party payment processors. The meeting also addressed plans to establish a best-practices tool kit, policy initiatives (including legislative and regulatory proposals), and an information-sharing structure for Working Group participants.

    Fraud Payday Lending

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  • FTC Submits Information Regarding 2011 Enforcement Actions and Planned 2012 Activities

    Consumer Finance

    On February 10, the FTC released a letter it recently submitted to the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) that reviews the FTC’s efforts in 2011 to enforce certain consumer financial services laws. The information provided in the letter will be used by the FRB in its 2011 Annual Report to Congress. In addition to reviewing past activity, the letter also outlines the FTC’s plans to exercise new authorities provided by the Dodd-Frank Act, including new or enhanced authority with regard to payment cards, motor vehicles, and mortgage disclosures.

    FTC Dodd-Frank

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  • Banking Agencies Extend Deadline to Request Independent Foreclosure Review

    Lending

    On February 15, the Federal Reserve Board and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced that the deadline for borrowers to seek review of their mortgage foreclosures under the Independent Foreclosure Review program has been extended to July 31, 2012. Under the program, an eligible borrower can have his or her foreclosure reviewed by independent consultants to determine whether the borrower was financially injured due to errors, misrepresentations, or other deficiencies in the foreclosure process. An injured borrower may be eligible for compensation or other remedies.

    Foreclosure Federal Reserve OCC

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  • FinCEN Issues Advisory Regarding Foreign-Located Money Services Businesses

    Financial Crimes

    On February 15, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued guidance regarding anti-money laundering (AML) programs for financial institutions that provide services to foreign-located money services businesses (MSB) or engage in transactions with such businesses. The guidance follows FinCEN’s July 2011 regulations issued under the Bank Secrecy Act that amended the definition of MSB to include businesses that conduct activities in the U.S. even if the business does not have any agents, agencies, branches, or offices physically located in the U.S. The advisory reviews the July regulations, reminds institutions about their obligations to file suspicious activity reports, and suggests that financial institutions update their AML programs using prior guidance on doing business with MSBs and on informal value transfer systems.

    Anti-Money Laundering

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  • Federal Reserve Releases Mortgage Servicing Monetary Sanction Orders

    Lending

    On February 13, the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) released the consent orders requiring five major mortgage servicing companies to pay a combined $766.5 million in monetary sanctions. The consent orders were entered in connection with the $25 billion multi-party mortgage servicing settlement announced on February 9, and that total settlement amount includes the FRB sanctions.

    Federal Reserve Mortgage Servicing

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