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  • Servicemember and bank settle SCRA issue, dismiss Supreme Court request

    Courts

    On January 5, the Supreme Court dismissed a servicemember’s petition for a writ of certiorari after receiving a Stipulation of Dismissal from both parties who agreed to settle the dispute. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the servicemember filed the petition after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision that the servicemember was not entitled to the protections against non-judicial foreclosures under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The lower court concluded that because the servicemember “incurred his mortgage obligation during his service in the Navy, the obligation was not subject to SCRA protection” even through the servicemember, after a discharge period, later re-enlisted with the Army.

    Courts U.S. Supreme Court SCRA Foreclosure Settlement Fourth Circuit Appellate

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  • U.S. government, national bank parties enter $5 million False Claims Act settlement

    Courts

    On January 5, the U.S. Government reached a $5 million settlement with a national bank and its affiliates (together, the bank parties) to resolve a lawsuit concerning allegations that the bank parties violated the False Claims Act (FCA) by engaging in improper foreclosure-related practices. The settlement is not an admission of liability by the bank parties. Specifically, as previously covered in InfoBytes, the lawsuit primarily alleged that the bank parties knowingly used rubber-stamped surrogate signed endorsements and false mortgage assignments to support false claims for mortgage insurance from the Federal Housing Administration. The lawsuit also asserted a reverse FCA claim alleging that the bank parties made false statements when entering into the 2012 National Mortgage Settlement. The U.S. Government, the bank parties, and the relator who initially brought the suit stipulated to the dismissal with prejudice concerning 39 “Implied Certification and False Statement Claims,” along with all claims brought or that could have been brought by the relator, but without prejudice as to any other claims that could be brought by the U.S. Government. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the bank parties are required to pay $3.4 million to the U.S. Government—$891,000 of which will be paid to the relator who originally brought the suit. In addition, the bank parties will pay the relator an additional $1.6 million in attorneys’ fees and litigation costs and expenses.

    Courts Foreclosure Mortgage Servicing Mortgages Settlement False Claims Act / FIRREA FHA

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  • International Bank Settles With California AG for $125 Million for RMBS Misrepresentations

    State Issues

    On December 22, the California Attorney General announced a $125 million settlement with an international bank to resolve allegations of misrepresentations while selling residential mortgage-backed securities to California’s public employee and teacher pension funds. According to Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office, an investigation found that descriptions of the RMBS “failed to accurately disclose the true characteristics of many of the underlying mortgages” to the state investors. Additionally, the international bank allegedly failed to adequately perform due diligence checks to remove poor quality loans from the investment pool, leading to millions of dollars of loss to the pension funds.

    State Issues State AG RMBS Settlement Mortgages

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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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  • California Department of Business Reaches $1.1 Million Settlement With South Carolina-Based Mortgage Lender and Servicer

    Lending

    The California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) announced on December 11 that it had reached a $1.1 million settlement with a South Carolina-based mortgage lender and servicer to resolve allegations that the company (1) violated California’s statutory restriction on per diem interest and (2) serviced loans without a California license. This settlement marks the second time in five years that examiners discovered alleged per diem overcharges in the company’s loans. Under California law, lenders are prohibited from charging interest on mortgage loans prior to the last business day that immediately precedes the day the loan proceeds are disbursed. In addition, it is a violation of state law to service residential mortgage loans without obtaining proper licensure.

    According to the terms of the settlement—which resolves violations identified during a 2016 supervisory examination—the company must: (i) refrain from loan servicing activities until licensed by the state; (ii) pay $1 million in penalties to DBO for past violations; (iii) pay $125 for each additional violation identified by an independent audit of its loan originations; and (iv) issue per diem interest refunds totaling more than $141,000 to at least 1,347 borrowers. The company has also agreed to revise its policies and procedures to prevent future violations of California law.

    Lending Settlement Mortgages DBO Mortgage Servicing Licensing

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  • DOJ Announces Settlement With Mortgage Lender to Resolve Alleged False Claims Act Violations

    Lending

    The DOJ announced a $11.6 million settlement on December 8 with a Louisiana-based direct endorsement mortgage lender and certain affiliates to resolve allegations that the lender violated the False Claims Act by falsely certifying compliance with federal requirements in order to obtain insurance on mortgage loans from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). According to the DOJ’s press release, between January 2005 and December 2014, the lender (i) certified loans that failed to meet HUD’s underwriting and origination requirements for FHA insurance; (ii) paid incentives to underwriters in violation of the “underwriter commission prohibition,” and continued to make incentive payments even after HUD notified the lender of commission prohibition noncompliance in 2010; and (iii) failed to, in a timely manner, “self-report material violations of HUD requirements” or perform quality reviews. The settlement also fully resolves a False Claims Act qui tam lawsuit that had been pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

    Lending DOJ False Claims Act / FIRREA FHA Settlement HUD Courts

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  • OFAC Penalizes Dental Supply Company for Violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations

    Financial Crimes

    The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) announced that it entered into a $1.2 million settlement with a U.S. dental supply company for alleged violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR). According to the December 6 announcement, between November 2009 and July 2012, two of the company’s subsidiaries exported 37 shipments of dental supplies to distributors in other countries with “knowledge or reason to know that the goods were ultimately destined for Iran.” OFAC determined that the alleged violations were non-egregious.

    In determining the settlement amount, OFAC considered multiple factors, including that (i) the subsidiaries acted willfully in violation of the ITSR because employees concealed their knowledge that the goods were destined for Iran; (ii) subsidiary supervisory personnel actively concealed their awareness of the apparent violations from their U.S. parent company; and (iii) the U.S. company is “commercially sophisticated” with knowledge of OFAC’s regulations. OFAC also considered numerous mitigating factors, including (i) the fact that the U.S. company has not received a penalty from OFAC in the previous five years; (ii) the harm to the ITSR program was limited; and (iii) the U.S. company cooperated with the investigation and took remedial steps. 

    Financial Crimes OFAC Sanctions Settlement Department of Treasury

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  • FTC Announces Settlement With Debt Collection Operation

    Consumer Finance

    This week, the FTC obtained a court order banning a Florida-based debt collection operation and its managing member from the debt collection business. The defendants were accused of violations of the FTC Act and the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act for, among other things, allegedly posing as lawyers and threating individuals with lawsuits or prison time if they failed to pay debt they did not actually owe. The order resolves a complaint filed by the FTC in July against defendants. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.) Under the terms of the settlement, the defendants are prohibited from, among other things, (i) engaging in debt collection activities; (ii) misrepresenting material facts regarding financial-related products or services; (iii) disclosing, using, or benefiting from consumers’ personal information; and (iv) improperly disposing such information when appropriate. Finally, the order assessed a $702,059 judgment for equitable monetary relief. 

    Consumer Finance FTC Debt Collection Settlement

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  • FTC Settles With Dallas Auto Dealer for Alleged Deceptive Advertisements

    Lending

    On December 1, the FTC announced a proposed order to settle with a Dallas, Texas auto dealership for alleged deceptive advertisements containing loan and lease terms in Spanish-language newspapers. According to the FTC, the dealership violated the FTC Act by prominently displaying advantageous loan and lease terms in Spanish and qualifying those terms in smaller-print English at the bottom of the page. The FTC alleges the dealership misrepresented (i) the total cost of purchasing or leasing; (ii) the underwriting restrictions for the advertised loan or lease; and (iii) the availability of the inventory advertised. Additionally, the FTC alleged that the dealership violated Truth in Lending Act and the Consumer Leasing Act by failing to “clearly and conspicuously” disclose credit and lease terms. The proposal requires the dealership to cease the allegedly deceptive conduct and comply with all applicable advertisement regulations in the future. The proposal is published in the Federal Register and is open for public comment until January 2, 2018.

    Lending Auto Finance FTC Settlement FTC Act TILA CLA Federal Register

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  • Virginia AG Announces Settlement With Internet Lender Over Licensing Claims and Origination Fees

    State Issues

    On November 30, Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced a settlement with a Chicago-based “open-end credit plan internet lender” to resolve alleged violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act (VCPA). Specifically, the Attorney General’s Office alleged that the lender misrepresented that it was licensed to conduct lending activity in Virginia and charged unlawful origination fees during a statutorily required grace period. According to a press release issued by the Attorney General’s office, the settlement requires the lender to provide more than $3 million of refunds and interest forgiveness to borrowers, and pay the state $30,000 in civil money penalties, costs, and fees. The settlement also contains a permanent injunction that prohibits the lender from misrepresenting its status as a licensed Virginia lender and violating the VCPA.

    State Issues State AG Consumer Finance Anti-Predatory Lending Settlement

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