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  • CA Attorney General secures $67 million in debt relief for former students of defunct for-profit school

    State Issues

    On June 13, the Superior Court of the State of California ordered a California-based student loan provider to halt all debt collection efforts and forgive the balances on over 30,000 private student loans, which were used for programs at a now defunct for-profit college. According to the announcement by the California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, the debt relief totals $67 million for the former students. The complaint, filed on the same day as the order, alleges the company engaged in unlawful debt collection practices, including sending borrowers notices threatening legal action, to collect on the student loans at issue. In addition to the debt forgiveness, the order requires the company to (i) refund all payments made on the student loans by California-residents after August 1, 2017; (ii) refund payments made prior to August 1, 2017 by borrowers who received allegedly unlawful debt collection notices; and (iii) delete negative credit reporting associated with the student loans for all of the for-profit students around the country.

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, in a class action filed by former students, the Department of Education was recently barred by a preliminary injunction from continuing collection efforts on student loans used for the same defunct for-profit college.

    State Issues State Attorney General Student Lending Debt Cancellation Debt Collection Consumer Finance Lending Courts

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  • National bank and coalition of 42 Attorneys General settle LIBOR action for $100 million

    State Issues

    On June 15, the New York Attorney General, along with 41 other state Attorneys General, announced a $100 million settlement with a national bank for allegedly fraudulent conduct involving U.S. Dollar LIBOR. According to the settlement agreement, the bank “misrepresented the integrity of the LIBOR benchmark” to government and private institutional counterparties. The bank allegedly concealed, misrepresented, or failed to disclose information to “avoid negative publicity and protect the reputation of the bank,” including, among other things, asked employees in other sections of the bank avoid offering higher rates than the bank’s USD LIBOR submissions. Additionally, contributing to inaccurate LIBOR benchmark rates, the bank allegedly was aware that other financial institutions made USD LIBOR submissions that were inconsistent with their borrowing rates. The bank is required to pay $95 million into a settlement fund, which government and non-profit entities with LIBOR-linked investments from the bank may be eligible for distribution, while the remaining $5 million will cover costs and fees associated with the investigation and settlement.

    State Issues State Attorney General Settlement LIBOR

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  • Federal Reserve Board approves final rule setting single counterparty credit limit

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On June 14, the Federal Reserve Board approved a rule to establish single-counterparty credit limits for U.S. bank holding companies with at least $250 billion in total consolidated assets, foreign banking organizations operating in the U.S. with at least $250 billion in total global consolidated assets (as well as their intermediate holding companies with $50 billion or more in total U.S. consolidated assets), and global systemically important bank holding companies (GSIBs).

    The rule, which implements section 165(e) of the Dodd-Frank Act, requires the Board to limit a bank holding company’s or foreign banking organization’s credit exposure to an unaffiliated company. Under the rule, a GSIB’s credit exposure is limited to 15 percent of its tier 1 capital to another systemically important firm.  A U.S. bank holding company and other applicable foreign institution is limited to a credit exposure of 25% of its tier 1 capital to a counterparty.

    GSIBs will be required to comply with the final rule on January 1, 2020, while other covered entities will have through July 1, 2020 to comply. The final rule will take effect 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve GSIBs Dodd-Frank

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  • OCC issues bulletin on supervisory policy and processes for CRA performance evaluations

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On June 15, the OCC issued Bulletin 2018-17, which clarifies the agency’s supervisory policies and processes regarding how examiners evaluate and communicate the performance of national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches and agencies under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). The OCC issued these clarifications as part of its ongoing modernization efforts and explained that they are intended to promote the consistency and effectiveness of CRA performance evaluations. The Bulletin addresses policy clarifications for several areas of CRA evaluations, which are effective immediately, such as (i) implementation of full-scope and limited-scope reviews; (ii) consideration of activities that promote economic development; (iii) use of demographic, aggregate, and market share data; and (iv) evaluation frequency and timing. The Bulletin also provides clarifications on standard processes which became effective in May 2017, including, among other things, (i) factors considered when evaluating bank performance under small- and large-bank lending tests; and (ii) information considered and included in the written performance evaluation. The OCC noted that “[t]hese policies and processes apply to the evaluations of all OCC-supervised banks subject to the CRA, regardless of the bank’s asset size or CRA evaluation type.”

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC Bank Supervision CRA

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  • OCC releases recent enforcement actions, issues $12.5 million penalty for BSA/AML compliance deficiencies

    Federal Issues

    On June 15, the OCC released a list of recent enforcement actions taken against national banks, federal savings associations, and individuals currently and formerly affiliated with such entities. The new enforcement actions include cease and desist orders, civil money penalty orders, and removal/prohibition orders. The consent order described below was among those in the OCC’s list:

    On April 14, the OCC issued a consent order and $12.5 million civil money penalty order against a New York-branch of an international bank for alleged deficiencies in the branch’s BSA/AML compliance program.  The alleged deficiencies included the failure to file timely Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) as well as deficiencies in the branch’s compliance with Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) requirements. Among other things, the consent order requires the branch to (i) develop and implement an ongoing BSA/AML and OFAC risk assessment program; (ii) adopt an independent audit program to conduct a review of the bank’s BSA/AML compliance program; and (iii) ensure the branch has a permanent and experienced BSA officer. The bank has neither admitted nor denied the OCC’s findings. 

    Federal Issues OCC Enforcement Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering SARs OFAC

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  • Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae release updates to servicing guides

    Federal Issues

    On June 13, Freddie Mac released Guide Bulletin 2018-9, which among other things, updates servicer requirements for short-term, long-term, and unemployment forbearance plans and consolidates the offerings into a single plan. Effective December 1, the streamlined plan will allow servicers to approve forbearance plans lasting up to six months without requiring eligible borrowers to submit a Borrower Response Package. Servicers may also offer consecutive forbearance plans that do not exceed 12 months in total to qualifying borrowers. Separately, the Bulletin includes the introduction of Freddie Mac’s NextJob re-employment services company designed to serve high-needs areas and provide job search skills and training for unemployed or underemployed borrowers who have requested loss mitigation assistance.

    On the same day, Fannie Mae updated its Servicing Guide to consolidate and simplify its forbearance policies into a single plan, and encouraged servicers to implement the changes immediately, but no later than December 1. Fannie Mae clarified, however, that forbearance plans “entered into prior to the servicer’s implementation would adhere to existing policy until the expiration of such forbearance plan.” Additional changes to the Servicing Guide include: (i) clarifications to the escrow advances reimbursement policy for real estate taxes and flood/property insurance premiums; and (ii) updates to be implemented by August 1 for when servicers are required to notify Fannie Mae that a mortgage loan has been placed under military indulgence.

     

    Federal Issues Freddie Mac Fannie Mae Servicing Guide Mortgages Loss Mitigation Flood Insurance Escrow

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  • CFPB fines installment lender $5 million for improper collection and credit reporting practices

    Federal Issues

    On June 13, the CFPB ordered a South Carolina-based installment lender and its subsidiaries to pay $5 million in civil money penalties for allegedly making improper in-person and telephonic collection attempts in violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA) and inaccurately furnishing information to credit reporting agencies in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). According to the consent order, between 2011 and 2016, the company and its subsidiaries (i) initiated collection attempts at consumers’ homes and places of employment; (ii) routinely called consumers at work to collect debts, sometimes after being told they were not allowed to receive calls; and (iii) contacted third parties and disclosed or were at risk of disclosing the existence of the consumer’s debt. The CFPB also alleges that the company and its subsidiaries failed to implement reasonable credit reporting procedures and failed to correct inaccurate information furnished to credit reporting agencies. In addition to the $5 million civil money penalty, the company and its subsidiaries must (i) cease improper collection practices; (ii) correct the credit reporting errors; and (iii) develop a comprehensive compliance plan.

    Federal Issues CFPB CFPA UDAAP FCPA Enforcement Debt Cancellation

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  • 8th Circuit affirms $17 million class settlement for retailer data breach

    Courts

    On June 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling approving a $17 million class settlement to resolve consumer claims related to a 2013 data breach, which resulted in the compromise of at least 40 million credit cards and theft of personal information of up to 110 million people. The settlement, which consists of $10 million in consumer redress and almost $7 million in plaintiffs’ attorney fees, was preliminarily approved in 2015 by the district court (previously covered by InfoBytes here) but was remanded back to the court by the 8th Circuit for failing to conduct the appropriate pre-certification analysis. After the district court recertified the class, two settlement challengers appealed, arguing that the class was not properly certified as there were not separate counsel for the subclasses and that the court erred in approving the settlement because the award of attorney’s fees was not reasonable. The appellate court disagreed, holding that no fundamental conflict of interest required separate representation for named class members and class members who suffered no actual losses. The court also concluded that the 29 percent in total monetary payment to the plaintiffs’ attorneys was “well within the amounts [the court] has deemed reasonable in the past” and therefore, the district court did not error in its discretion.

     

    Courts Appellate Eighth Circuit Class Action Data Breach Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security

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  • New York Court of Appeals rules claims under Martin Act governed by three-year statute of limitations

    Courts

    On June 12, the New York Court of Appeals issued a 4 to 1 ruling that claims brought under the state’s Martin Act are governed by a statute of limitations of three years, not six. Former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a suit against a bank alleging that in 2006 and 2007, the bank misrepresented the quality of residential mortgage-backed securities it created and sold, bringing its claims under the state’s Martin Act, which grants the Attorney General of New York expanded liability for investigating and enjoining fraudulent practices in the marketing of stocks, bonds and other securities beyond what can be recognized under the common law fraud statute. The bank argued that the action was time-barred because too much time had elapsed to bring claims under the Martin Act, and an argument ensued as to whether the three-year statute of limitations that applies to actions to recover upon a liability or penalty imposed by a statute, or the six-year statute of limitations that applies to an action based upon fraud, applied. In its decision, the majority wrote that the three-year period applied because the Martin Act “expands upon, rather than codifies, the common law of fraud” and “imposes numerous obligations—or ‘liabilities’—that did not exist at common law, justifying the imposition of a three-year statute of limitations.” The court concluded that the broad definition of “fraudulent practices” encompasses wrongs that are not otherwise cognizable under the common law and “dispenses, among other things, with any requirement that the Attorney General prove scienter or justifiable reliance on the part of investors.” The court remanded the case to the New York State Supreme Court for further proceedings concerning the state’s claim against the bank for alleged violations of Executive Law Section 63(12).

    Courts Mortgages RMBS State Issues State Attorney General

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  • Global bank settles FCPA allegations concerning “sons and daughters” investigation into hiring practices

    Financial Crimes

    On June 6, a global bank announced it had entered into a non-prosecution agreement with the DOJ to resolve an FCPA investigation into hiring practices in the Asia Pacific region between 2007 and 2013. As part of the agreement, the bank agreed to pay a $46 million penalty to the DOJ. According to the bank, it has already provisioned for the penalty and expects the payment to have “no material impact” on its second quarter financial results. The bank further stated that it has implemented multiple enhancements to its compliance and control functions since 2013. 

    U.S. authorities have investigated several other financial services institutions over their hiring practices in Asia, which have become known as the “sons and daughters” investigations because of the allegations that banks widely hired the children of elite Chinese political families to secure an advantage in obtaining business. Prior Scorecard coverage of those investigations can be found here.

    Financial Crimes DOJ FCPA Sons and Daughters

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