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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • U.S. branch and affiliates of Japanese-based bank settle RMBS misconduct allegations for $480 million


    On October 16, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York announced that the U.S. branch of a Japanese-based bank and several of its affiliates would settle claims related to the bank’s marketing, sale, and issuance of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) in the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis. In particular, the U.S. Attorney alleged that the bank, among other things, (i) misrepresented the effectiveness of its due diligence loan review procedures and the quality of the RMBS to investors; (ii) overruled due diligence warnings and allowed the securitization of loans that failed to comply with underwriting guidelines without investors’ knowledge; and (iii) continued to work with originators that “had ‘systemic’ underwriting issues and employed ‘questionable’ origination practices.” The bank disputes the allegations and does not admit to any liability or wrongdoing, but agreed to pay a $480 million civil money penalty pursuant to the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act to resolve the matter.

    Securities DOJ Settlement RMBS FIRREA

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  • FinCEN encourages financial institutions affected by Hurricane Michael to communicate Bank Secrecy Act filing delays; extends FBAR filing deadline

    Financial Crimes

    On October 15, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a notice to financial institutions that file Bank Secrecy Act reports to encourage communication with FinCEN and their functional regulators regarding any expected filing delays caused by Hurricane Michael. FinCEN also reminded financial institutions to review advisory FIN-2017-A007, previously covered by InfoBytes, which discusses potential fraudulent activity related to recent disaster relief schemes.

    The same day, FinCEN issued a second notice for certain filers affected by Hurricane Michael to extend the deadline for submitting their 2017 calendar year Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBARs). FBARs for affected filers are now due February 28, 2019.

    Find more InfoBytes disaster relief coverage here.

    Financial Crimes FinCEN Disaster Relief Bank Secrecy Act

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  • FHFA announces centralized clearinghouse for mortgage industry to assist borrowers with limited English proficiency


    On October 15, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae announced the joint launch of the Mortgage Translations clearinghouse, a collection of online resources designed to help lenders and servicers assist borrowers with limited English proficiency. The clearinghouse currently provides Spanish-language resources, and will add resources in Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Tagalog in the coming years. Mortgage Translations also includes a Spanish-English glossary developed in collaboration with the CFPB to help standardize translations across the mortgage industry.

    Lending FHFA Freddie Mac Fannie Mae Mortgages

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  • District Court denies preliminary injunction; Department of Education’s Borrower Defense Regulations take effect


    On October 17, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied plaintiff California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools’ request for preliminary injunction to enjoin the implementation and enforcement of several provisions of the Department of Education’s Final Regulations (81 FR 75926) (also known as the “Borrower Defense Regulations” or “regulations”). The Borrower Defense Regulations—finalized in 2016 and originally set to take effect July 1, 2017—are designed to protect student borrowers against misleading and predatory practices by postsecondary institutions and clarify a process for loan forgiveness in cases of institutional misconduct. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.) Under the regulations, the Department is required to create a “clear, fair, and transparent” process for handling borrowers’ loan discharge requests and to automatically forgive the loans of some students at schools that closed, without requiring borrowers to apply for that relief. However, according to the court, because the Department stayed the effective date of the majority of the regulations pending resolution of the case, the plaintiff’s motion was never fully briefed or decided. After hearing oral arguments, the court concluded that the plaintiff “failed to carry its burden of demonstrating that any one of its members is likely to suffer an irreparable injury in the absence of an injunction.” Moreover, the court stated that it was “not convinced that the [plaintiff] has shown a ‘substantial likelihood’ that it has standing to sue.”

    Per the court’s decision, the Borrower Defense Regulations became effective immediately. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the court sided with a coalition of state Attorneys General last month, ruling that the Department’s decision to delay the regulations was procedurally invalid, but delayed implementation of the regulations pending a decision in the plaintiff’s lawsuit.

    Courts Student Lending Department of Education

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  • FTC to release quarterly consumer complaint data; agency highlights rise in gift card scams

    Consumer Finance

    On October 16, the FTC announced the launch of a new interactive online format that will release aggregated consumer complaint data on a quarterly basis. The interactive dashboards explore aggregated statistics about fraud, identity theft, and other consumer protection problems, and also provide a state-by-state breakdown of issues. As part of the new initiative, the FTC’s Consumer Protection Data Spotlight focuses on the rise in consumer complaints concerning gift card scams, which are now the most reported method of payment for imposter scams. According to the FTC, fraud report payments using gift and reload cards experienced a 270 percent increase (from 7 percent up to 26 percent), which can be attributed to quick access to cash, largely irreversible transactions, and anonymity. As of September 2018, the FTC reports that reported losses involving the use of gift and reload cards has already reached $53 million.

    Consumer Finance FTC Consumer Complaints Gift Cards

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  • Federal banking agencies issue appraisal regulation FAQs

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 16, the FDIC, Federal Reserve Board, and the OCC issued FAQs to offer additional clarification concerning appraisal and evaluation functions set out in the 2010 Interagency Appraisal and Evaluation Guidelines, the 2016 Interagency Advisory on Use of Evaluations in Real Estate-Related Financial Transactions, and other related regulations, guidance, and advisories. (See FDIC FIL-62-2018 and OCC Bulletin 2018-39). The FAQs—which do not introduce new policy or guidance—address a range of topics including (i) regulatory and statutory requirements applicable to appraisal and evaluation programs; (ii) financial institutions’ review of appraisal and evaluation programs; (iii) appraisal exemptions; (iv) development of appraisals and evaluations, including relevant policies and procedures; and (v) appraisal independence.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FDIC Federal Reserve OCC Appraisal

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  • OCC updates Comptroller’s Handbook booklets, addresses trade finance and services activities

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 15, the OCC issued Bulletin 2018-38, which updates, among other things, the “Trade Finance and Services” booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook previously issued in April 2015. The booklet provides guidance for OCC examiners to use in connection with the examination and supervision of national banks and federal savings associations that engage in international trade finance and services activites, including “letters of credit, guarantees, acceptances, open account financing, other specialized trade financing, financial supply chain solutions, prepayment, advising, trade collections, bank-to-bank reimbursement services, insourcing/outsourcing trade processing, and hedging services.”

    The updated booklet (i) incorporates references to relevant OCC issuances published since April 2015; (ii) reflects the integration of federal savings associations into certain regulations; and (iii) makes “clarifying edits regarding supervisory guidance, sound risk management practices, legal language, or the roles of the bank’s board or management.”

    Bulletin 2018-38 also updates the “Agricultural Lending” and “Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Lending” booklets and rescinds previously issued corresponding bulletins.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC Comptroller's Handbook Examination Bank Supervision

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  • VA encourages loan holders to extend relief to borrowers impacted by Hurricane Michael

    Federal Issues

    On October 15, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued Circular 26-18-23, requesting relief for homeowners impacted by Hurricane Michael. Among other things, the Circular encourages loan holders to (i) extend forbearance to borrowers in distress because of the storms; (ii) establish a 90-day moratorium from the date of the disaster on initiating new foreclosures on affected loans; (iii) waive late charges on affected loans; and (iv) suspend reporting affected loans to credit bureaus. The Circular is effective until October 1, 2019. Mortgage servicers and veteran borrowers are also encouraged to review the VA’s Guidance on Natural Disasters.

    Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on disaster relief here.

    Federal Issues Department of Veterans Affairs Disaster Relief Mortgages Mortgage Servicing

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  • Federal Reserve Governor encourages input on OCC’s ANPR on CRA reform

    Federal Issues

    On October 15, Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard spoke during a community investment meeting hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Denver Branch to discuss the role of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) in strengthening community investment. She noted that the OCC recently published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), and encouraged the public to submit comments by November 19. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the ANPR seeks input from stakeholders on ways to modernize the CRA regulatory framework. Brainard noted there was confusion about commenting on the ANPR because it was not published on an interagency basis. She clarified that although the Federal Reserve did not join in the publication of the ANPR, the Federal Reserve will read comment letters in anticipation of working with the OCC and FDIC on a joint proposal. Brainard emphasized that the “CRA is too important to the financial well-being of communities across this country for banks and community members to disengage in any part of this process.”

    Federal Issues Federal Reserve OCC CRA

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  • OFAC amends Ukraine-related General Licenses to extend expiration dates

    Financial Crimes

    On October 12, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the issuance of Ukraine-related General Licenses (GL) 13E, 14B, and 16B, which amend previous licenses and extend the expiration date of those licenses from November 12 to December 12 for wind-down transactions relating to a specific list of companies and subsidiaries that otherwise would be prohibited by Ukraine-Related Sanctions Regulations.

    GL 13E supersedes GL 13D and authorizes, among other things, (i) the divestiture of the holdings of specific blocked persons to a non-U.S. person; and (ii) the facilitation of transfers of debt, equity, or other holdings involving specified blocked persons to a non-U.S. person. GL 14B, which supersedes GL 14A, relates to specific wind-down activities involving a Russian aluminum producer sanctioned last April (see previous InfoBytes coverage here). Finally, GL 16B supersedes GL 16A and authorizes the maintenance or wind-down of operations, contracts, or other agreements that were in effect prior to April 6 and that involve a specific list of entities.

    Visit here for additional InfoBytes coverage on Ukraine sanctions.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Ukraine Sanctions

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