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  • NYDFS fines global money service $60 million for AML deficiencies

    Financial Crimes

    On January 4, New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) ordered one of the largest global money transfer services to pay $60 million for willfully failing to implement an effective anti-money laundering (AML) program. According to the consent order, between 2004 and 2012, three of the company’s New York locations allowed the company’s services to be used to pay debts to human traffickers based in China. Additionally, the order emphasizes that the company was aware of weaknesses in its compliance program for years and failed to implement controls that could have detected and prevented the payments in question. The NYDFS investigation resulted from a January 2017 settlement with the Department of Justice, which found that during the same time period (2004-2012), the company processed hundreds of thousands of transactions for company agents and others involved in an international consumer fraud scheme, as previously covered by InfoBytes. In addition to the fine, the order requires that the company put in place stricter AML compliance measures, including the creation of an Independent Compliance Committee of the Board of Directors.

    Financial Crimes NYDFS Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering Bank Compliance International

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  • NYDFS Orders Korean Bank to Pay $11 Million Civil Money Penalty for BSA/AML Compliance Deficiencies

    Financial Crimes

    On December 21, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) entered into a consent order with a Korean bank and its New York branch to resolve issues regarding alleged deficiencies in the branch’s Bank Secrecy Act and other anti-money laundering (BSA/AML) compliance and risk management. The alleged deficiencies were discovered during three examinations between 2014-2016 by NYDFS and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. According to the consent order, among other things, the branch failed to maintain adequate transaction monitoring and suspicious activity reporting (SAR), lacked compliance staff with proper BSA/AML background experience, and lacked adequate BSA/AML and OFAC risk assessments.

    The Korean bank and its branch are required to pay an $11 million civil money penalty, and in addition must submit the following documentation (i) a BSA/AML compliance program; (ii) a customer due-diligence program; (iii) a SAR program; (iv) a revised internal audit program; and (v) a plan to enhance oversight of the branch’s BSA/AML compliance requirements. The Korean bank and branch are also required to submit quarterly reports for two years with updates on the branch’s compliance progress.

    Financial Crimes NYDFS Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering SARs Settlement

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  • NYDFS updates cybersecurity regulation FAQs

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    Recently, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) updated its answers to FAQs relating to 23 NYCRR Part 500. As previously covered in InfoBytes, 23 NYCRR Part 500 took effect March 1 and establishes cybersecurity requirements for banks, insurance companies, and other financial services companies. The December updates to the FAQs address risk-based requirements affecting covered entities, including the following topics; (i) penetration testing and vulnerability assessments; (ii) third-party service provider due diligence requirements; (iii) limited notices of exemption; and (iv) record requirements.

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security State Issues NYDFS

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  • OCC Recent Enforcement Actions Target BSA/AML Compliance Programs and National Flood Insurance Act Violations

    Federal Issues

    On December 14, the OCC released a list of recent enforcement actions taken against national banks, federal savings associations, and individuals currently and formerly affiliated with such parties. The new enforcement actions include cease and desist orders, civil money penalty orders, removal/prohibition orders, and restitution orders. The list also includes recently terminated enforcement actions.

    Cease and Desist Order. On November 9, the OCC issued a consent order (2017 Order) two days after converting a Japanese bank’s two New York branches under the supervision of the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) to federally licensed branches under the supervision of the OCC. As part of the OCC’s approval process, the bank’s federal branches and New York branches agreed to the issuance of the 2017 Order, which requires adherence to “remedial provisions . . . substantively the same as those” in consent orders entered into in 2013 and 2014 with NYDFS. The previously issued consent orders addressed deficiencies related to the bank’s Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) sanctions compliance programs, specifically concerning the removal of key warnings to regulators on transactions with sanctioned countries.

    The 2017 Order, among other things, requires the bank to: (i) submit an action plan on enhancing internal controls and updating policies and procedures to correct BSA/AML deficiencies, address provisions applicable under the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s requirements, and implement requirements outlined in the 2013 and 2014 consent orders; (ii) ensure adherence to the action plan and 2017 Order under the direction of the bank’s general manager; (iii) submit a management oversight plan designed to improve and enhance the bank’s sanctions compliance programs; and (iv) prevent the retention or future engagement of any individual identified and “barred by the 2014 Consent Order from engaging, directly or indirectly, in any duties, responsibilities, or activities at or on behalf of the [b]ank or the [b]ank’s affiliates that involve their banking business in the [U.S.].” The 2017 Order does not require the bank to pay a civil monetary penalty.

    Civil Monetary Penalty. On October 10, the OCC assessed a $452,000 civil monetary penalty against a national bank lender for alleged violations of the National Flood Insurance Act and/or the Flood Disaster Protection Act. The bank agreed to pay the penalty without admitting or denying any wrongdoing. 

    Federal Issues OCC Enforcement Compliance Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering OFAC NYDFS Financial Crimes Flood Insurance Sanctions

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  • Judge Dismisses OCC Fintech Charter Challenge

    Fintech

    A U.S. District Court Judge dismissed the New York Department of Financial Services’ (NYDFS) challenge to the OCC’s proposed federal charter for fintech firms.  (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.) In the December 12 order, the judge agreed with the OCC that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over NYDFS’ claims because the OCC has yet to finalized its plans to actually issue fintech charters. The case was dismissed without prejudice.

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) has also filed a lawsuit, which challenges the same statutory authority allowing the OCC to create charters for fintech companies. The CSBS lawsuit is still active. 

    Fintech Courts OCC NYDFS Litigation

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  • Credit Reporting Agencies Must Comply With Emergency Regulations

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On Tuesday, New York State adopted emergency regulations intended to “provide consumers with the means to protect themselves against identity theft” and assist those consumers who have fallen victim to such theft.  The New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection (the Division), which has the authority to promulgate rules and regulations related to consumer protection activities of all state agencies, announced the adoption of regulations as part of its Identify Theft Prevention and Mitigation Program (the Program). In a press release issued December 12 by the office of New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, the regulations will require consumer credit reporting agencies to comply with the following, among other things:

    • provide responses within 10 days to information requests made by the Division when investigating, mediating, or mitigating a consumer’s identity theft complaint;
    • identify dedicated points of contact to assist the Division’s effective administering of the program;
    • make available to the Division a list and description of all business affiliations and contractual relationships that provide identity theft and credit monitoring-related products or services; and
    • clearly disclose all fees associated with offered products and services marketed to prevent identity theft, and inform consumers of trial and cancellation provisions.

    Consumer credit reporting agencies will be required to comply with these regulations, effective immediately. A to-be-announced public comment period will occur prior to the regulations’ final adoption.

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) has taken several steps to address cybersecurity concerns, including a September 18 announcement that the state would expand cybersecurity standards to cover credit reporting agencies. Under the proposed regulation, credit reporting agencies would be subject to compliance examinations, would be required to initially register with NYDFS, and would be required to comply with cybersecurity regulations starting on April 4, 2018, in accordance with a phased-in compliance schedule.

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security State Issues Data Breach Credit Rating Agencies NYDFS

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  • New York Enters Second Stage in Use of Nationwide Licensing System

    State Issues

    On November 1, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) announced that it will transition licensed lenders and sales finance companies to the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS). NMLS allows companies to apply for, update, and renew licenses in one or more states online. According to the announcement, transitioning to NMLS will allow NYDFS to link with other states and thus provide enhanced supervision of nondepository institutions. As previously covered by InfoBytes, in July, NYDFS began its initiative to manage the licensing and regulation of all nondepository financial institutions operating in the state by transitioning money transmitters to the web-based system.

    State Issues NYDFS NMLS Licensing Lending

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  • OCC Acting Comptroller Discusses Innovation and Technology in the Financial Services Industry

    Fintech

    On October 19, OCC Acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith A. Noreika spoke at Georgetown University’s Institute of International Economic Law’s Fintech Week to discuss innovation within the financial technology sector and its impact on the evolution of the financial services marketplace. “[W]hat has allowed the business of banking to evolve so successfully is that we have remained open to change and created a framework of laws and regulation over time that allows banking activities to evolve,” Noreika remarked. “[W]e have to be careful to avoid defining banking too narrowly or in a stagnant way that prevents the system from taking advantage of responsible advances in technology and commerce.”

    Noreika spoke about the OCC’s Office of Innovation (Office), which was created earlier this year to facilitate discussions related to fintech and financial innovation. A pilot framework is currently being developed by the Office to create a “controlled environment” for banks to develop and test products to provide insight into a “proposed product’s controls and risks” and how it might possibly impact OCC policies in the future.

    Noreika also discussed the OCC’s position on issuing special purpose national bank charters to non-depository fintech companies seeking to expand into the banking sector—a concept currently being contested by both the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) and the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), and one which the OCC has not yet made a decision (See previous InfoBytes coverage of CSBS’ and NYDFS’ challenges here and here.) Addressing claims that fintech charters would inappropriately mix banking and commerce, Noreika refuted the argument and stated that his suggestion was to “talk to any company interested in becoming a bank and that commercial companies should not be prohibited from applying—if they meet the criteria for doing so.” Further, a “chartered entity, regulated by the OCC, would be a bank, engaged in at least one of the core activities of banking” as defined by the Bank Holding Company Act.

    Fintech OCC Bank Holding Company Act CSBS NYDFS Banking

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  • NYDFS Announces Two New Regulations Targeting Title Insurance Practices

    State Issues

    On October 17, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) adopted two final regulations designed to stop “unscrupulous practices” in the title insurance industry. The final regulations—which are the culmination of a NYDFS’ investigation into the practices of title insurers—supersede “emergency” versions of both regulations that went into effect earlier this year. (See previously InfoBytes coverage here.) Specifically, the first rule clarifies that certain “reasonable and customary” advertising and marketing expenses will be permitted provided “they are without regard to insured status or conditioned directly or indirectly on the referral of title business.” Meals, entertainment, and other forms of inducements are prohibited. According to a NYDFS press release, the state’s “anti-inducement statute is not limited to situations in which there is a direct quid pro quo for business.” The second rule requires, among other things, that title insurance companies or agents function independently from any affiliates through which they generate a portion of their business and make “good faith” efforts to accept business from non-affiliate sources.

    State Issues Consumer Finance NYDFS Kickback Title Insurance Mortgages

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  • NYDFS Announces Settlement to Provide Restitution and Loan Forgiveness to Consumers Affected by Payday Lending Practices

    Consumer Finance

    On September 25, New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) Superintendent Maria T. Vullo announced the Department had entered into a consent order with a payday loan debt collector and payday loan servicer (together, “defendants”) for allegedly collecting on illegal payday loans made to New York consumers between 2011 to 2014. Payday lending, according to NYDFS’ press release, is illegal in the state, and debt collectors who “collect or attempt to collect outstanding payments from New Yorkers on payday loans violate debt collection laws.” The consent order notes that in 2013, NYDFS circulated a guidance letter to all debt collectors operating in the state to remind them that usurious loans made by non-bank lenders with interest rates exceeding the statutory maximum—and the attempts to collect debts on these types of loans—are “void and unenforceable and violate state and federal law.” However, one of the defendants continued to collect on payday loans for more than a year. The alleged actions, NYDFS asserted, are violations of the Fair Debt Collection Procedures Act, New York Debt Collection Procedures Law, and New York General Business Law.

    Pursuant to the consent order, which includes a notice letter to be sent to affected consumers, the debt collector defendant must comply with the following: (i) cease all collection on payday loans in New York; (ii) release and discharge more than $11.8 million in outstanding applicable payday loan debts; (iii) move to vacate any judgments obtained on payday loan accounts; and (iv) “[r]elease any pending garnishments, levies, liens, restraining notices, or attachments relating to any judgments on New Yorkers’ payday loan accounts.” The loan servicer defendant must close any pending accounts in the state and cease communications with consumers regarding their accounts.

    Consumer Finance State Issues NYDFS Enforcement Settlement Payday Lending Debt Collection FDCPA

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