Subscribe to our InfoBytes Blog weekly newsletter and other publications for news affecting the financial services industry.
On July 25, Fannie Mae issued Servicing Guide Announcement SVC-2012-12, which provides notice of miscellaneous changes to the Fannie Mae Servicing Guide related to (i) the MERS Rule 14 Notice, (ii) approved title company requirements for certain states, and (iii) allowable attorney fees. With respect to the MERS Rule 14 notice, servicers will now be required to notify Fannie Mae whenever they are required to send MERS notice of certain MERS-related legal challenges. Fannie Mae announced that it is eliminating the requirement that servicers select a Fannie Mae-approved title company for work performed inArizona,California andWashington. Instead, servicers may select the title company of their choice. Fannie Mae also announced changes to the allowable amount of attorney’s and trustee’s fees in several jurisdictions.
On July 23, the Uniform Loan Delivery Dataset (ULDD) mandate took effect for loans delivered to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Fannie Mae recently provided a notification, and Freddie Mac recently published a Bulletin, outlining updates to their ULDD resources.
On July 24, the FDIC published a final rule that prohibits any insured savings association from acquiring or retaining a corporate debt security unless the association first determines that the issuer has adequate capacity to meet its obligations through the projected life of the security. An issuer would satisfy this requirement if it presents a low risk of default and is likely to make a full and timely repayment of principal and interest. The final rule is largely identical to the rule as proposed, but makes one change to clarify the rule and harmonize it with parallel OCC regulations. In conjunction with the final rule, the FDIC also finalized guidance meant to assist savings associations in conducting due diligence to determine whether a security is eligible under the final rule. The finalized guidance is substantially similar to the proposed version. The final rule took effect July 21, 2012.
On July 25, the OCC released an update to its Bank Accounting Advisory Series, which provides accounting guidance for financial institutions. The updates are intended to address industry questions related to acquired loans, other real estate owned, troubled debt restructurings, nonaccrual, allowance for loan and lease losses, insurance claims, and debt discharged in bankruptcy.
On July 26, the NCUA announced the creation of the Office of National Examinations and Supervision, effective January 1, 2013. The new office will focus on consumer credit unions with more than $10 billion in assets. The NCUA is making the change to alter what it identifies as an imbalance in its current examination and supervision program by shifting resources from examination of smaller credit unions to the largest credit unions.
Oregon Supreme Court Agrees to Address Electronic Mortgage Registry's Role as Beneficiary; Two California Appellate Courts Affirm Electronic Registry's Beneficiary Role
On July 19, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted certified questions arising from four cases pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon related to the role of an electronic mortgage registry as beneficiary. Brandrup v. ReconTrust Company, N. A. (S060281) (question certified from D. Or. Case No. 3:11-cv-1390-JE). The judge in those matters asked Oregon’s highest court to determine whether under state law (i) such a registry, that is neither a lender nor successor to a lender, may be a "beneficiary," (ii) an electronic registry may be designated as beneficiary where the trust deed provides the registry holds only the legal title to the interests granted by the borrower, but, if necessary to comply with law or custom, the registry has the right to exercise any or all of those interests, (iii) the transfer of a promissory note from the lender to a successor results in an automatic assignment of the securing trust deed that must be recorded prior to the commencement of nonjudicial foreclosure, and (iv) an electronic registry can retain and transfer legal title to a trust deed as nominee for the lender, after the note secured by the trust deed is transferred from the lender to a successor or series or successors. The court’s decision on these questions may also have implications for a recent decision in which the a state appellate court held that, under Oregon law, the term beneficiary can only mean the person named or otherwise designated in the trust deed as the person to whom the secured obligation is owed. Niday v. GMAC Mortgage LLC, No. CV 10020001, 2012 WL 2915520 (Or. App.Ct. Jul. 18, 2012). As such, the court held, a beneficiary that uses an electronic registry, and does not publicly record assignments of a trust deed, cannot avail itself of the state’s nonjudicial foreclosure process. That holding is contrary to substantialOregon case law.
Recently, in matters pending in California regarding similar issues, two appellate courts rejected challenges to an electronic registry’s role as beneficiary brought by borrowers as a defense in their foreclosure actions. Taasan v. Family Lending Services, Inc. No. A132339, 2012 WL 2774967 (Cal. Ct. App. 1st. Dist. Jul. 10 2012); Skov v. U.S. Bank N.A., No. H036483, 2012 WL 2054996 (Cal. Ct. app. 6th Dist. Jun. 8, 2012). For example, in Taasan, the court held that the foreclosing entity need not have physical possession of the note in order to initiate a nonjudicial foreclosure.
On July 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a district court’s dismissal of a Department of Justice suit alleging that two automobile dealers violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act by charging non-Asian customers higher "overages" or "dealer mark-ups" than similarly-situated Asian customers. United States v. Union Auto Sales, Inc. No. 9-7124, 2012 WL 2870333 (9th Cir. Jul. 13, 2012). A bank within whose network the automobile dealers operated, settled related charges concurrent with the filing of the case. The automobile dealers chose to litigate, eventually succeeding on a motion to dismiss. On appeal, the court reversed the district court’s holding that the complaint lacked sufficient supporting detail to give the defendants fair notice of the claim. Instead, the divided appeals court held that the government need not demonstrate discrimination at the pleading stage, but merely allege facts sufficient to make a discrimination claims plausible, a threshold met by the government’s complaint. One judge dissented from the majority opinion and argued that the government’s conclusory allegations do not meet the plausibility threshold established in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) and a subsequent Ninth Circuit decision. The majority also held that the district court erred in dismissing the complaint for failing to articulate intent, noting that under both disparate impact and disparate treatment theories, intent is irrelevant. Further, the court held that the link between names and racial categorization for the purposes of discriminatory conduct is well-established. The case was remanded for further proceedings.
On July 13, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden announced a settlement of the state’s lawsuit against a national electronic mortgage registry. The state alleged that the registry system created inaccurate and unreliable records that undermined chain of title in that state. Under the agreement, the registry has agreed to (i) maintain a database that allows homeowners to clearly see who owns the mortgage and who services the loan, (ii) record assignments of mortgages with the county Recorder of Deeds Office before a foreclosure can proceed, (iii) not foreclose in its name for the next five years, (iv) audit its records for accuracy and report results to the Attorney General, and (v) increase oversight and training, including annual examinations of documents signed by employees of its 25 largest members to check the identity and authority of the person who signed the documents. These steps are consistent with those already taken by the registry nationally, and the agreement does not include any monetary payment.
On July 16, Fannie Mae announced its “Know Your Options Customer Care” program, through which Fannie Mae provides training for servicers’ call center employees in an effort to help prevent foreclosures. The program also offers servicers scripting for interactions with homeowners and assistance with quality control implementation. Fannie Mae has already implemented the program with 18 of its largest servicers and is now making the program available to all servicers through online webinars and related materials. Fannie Mae noted that those servicers that have participated in the free program have seen substantial increases in workouts.
On July 13, the parties to the long-running consolidated class action litigation against the two major payment network providers and 17 banks filed a proposed settlement to resolve allegations that the defendants unlawfully conspired to fix the fees that merchants are charged each time a customer uses a card for a purchase, so-called “swipe” or “interchange” fees. Class Settlement Agreement, In re Payment Card Interchange Fee & Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation, No. 05-MD-1720 (E.D.N.Y. Jul. 13, 2012). In total, the settlement is valued at $7.25 billion. Of that total amount, roughly $6 billion would be paid to a class of millions of merchants and certain individual merchants. Another $1.2 billion of the total amount would be used to provide merchants with a temporary reduction in interchange fees. Further, the agreement allows merchants, for the first time, to apply a surcharge to customer transactions processed over the payment networks.
California AG Announces Privacy Enforcement Unit. On July 19, California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced the creation of the Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit. The unit will combine the various existing privacy functions of the California Department of Justice to centrally enforce and protect consumer privacy. The unit will pursue civil prosecution of state and federal privacy laws regulating the collection, retention, disclosure, and destruction of private or sensitive information by individuals, organizations, and the government. These include laws relating to cyber privacy, financial privacy, identity theft, and data breaches, among others. The new unit will reside within the eCrime Unit, which was created in December 2011 to identify and prosecute identity theft crimes, cyber-crimes and other crimes involving the use of technology.
California Expands Servicemember Protections. On July 13, California enacted AB 2476, which expands the period of time during which servicemembers are protected from high interest rates. Under current law, a creditor cannot charge, during a servicemember’s period of military service, an interest rate in excess of 6% on any obligation or liability incurred by a servicemember before that person’s entry into service. The bill expands the interest rate protections to prevent an increase in any such rate on a mortgage, trust deed, or other security in the nature of a mortgage for one year after the period of military service.
Hawaii Enacts Multiple Mortgage-Related Bills and Legislation to Protect Personal Information. Recently, Hawaii enacted a set of bills related to mortgage origination and servicing. With regard to mortgage origination, S.B. 2763 amends the state SAFE Act to reflect changes to the federal law and to adjust originator registration fees. With regard to mortgage servicers, H.B. 2502 allows the Commissioner of Financial Institutions to require registration with the NMLS and makes it unlawful for a servicer to provide loan modifications without first complying with certain licensing requirements. Another bill, H.B. 1875 makes numerous changes to the state’s foreclosure laws, largely implementing recommendations from the Mortgage Foreclosure Task Force created by the state legislature in 2010. Finally, with regard to mortgages, H.B. 2375 establishes criminal penalties for certain violations of the state’s Mortgage Rescue Fraud Prevention Act. Hawaii also recently enacted S.B. 2419, which prohibits businesses from scanning a customer’s identification card or driver’s license with an electronic device capable of obtaining information electronically encoded on that identification card, except for specific purposes.
- Melissa Klimkiewicz to discuss "Private flood insurance updates" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Servicing Solutions Conference & Expo
- Jonice Gray Tucker and H Joshua Kotin to discuss regulatory compliance issues in the fintech industry at Protiviti's Risk & Compliance Innovation Roundtable
- APPROVED Checkpoint Webcast: CFL overview
- Amanda R. Lawrence and Sherry-Maria Safchuk to discuss "California privacy rule" on an NAFCU webinar
- Sasha Leonhardt to discuss "MLA & SCRA" on a NAFCU webinar
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Pathway of the SARs: Tracking trajectories of suspicious activity reports from alerts to prosecution" at the ACAMS International AML & Financial Crime Conference
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Which bud’s for you? A deep-dive into evolving marijuana laws" at the ACAMS International AML & Financial Crime Conference
- Brandy A. Hood to discuss "RESPA 8 (TRID applied compliance)" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Michelle L. Rogers to discuss "Major litigation" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- John P. Kromer to discuss "Navigating the multi-state fintech regulatory regime" at the American Conference Institute Legal, Regulatory and Compliance Forum on Fintech & Emerging Payment Systems
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Leveraging big data responsibly" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Hank Asbill to discuss "Critique of direct examination; Questions and answers" at the American Bar Association Section of Litigation Anatomy of a Trial: Murder Trial of Ziang Sung Wan
- Hank Asbill to discuss "What judges want from trial lawyers" at the American Bar Association Section of Litigation Anatomy of a Trial: Murder Trial of Ziang Sung Wan
- Steven R. vonBerg to speak at the "Conference super session" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference