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On October 23, a bipartisan coalition of 33 state Attorneys General sent a letter to acting Director of the CFPB, Mick Mulvaney, expressing concern over reports that the Bureau is no longer supervising financial institutions for compliance with the Military Lending Act (MLA). The Attorneys General wrote that the Bureau would be “failing to abide by its statutorily mandated duty to enforce the MLA” by interpreting its authority to preclude the examination of lenders for compliance with the act. Specifically, the Attorneys General point to recent amendments to the MLA providing that the statute “shall be enforced” by the Bureau (among other agencies) “under any . . . applicable authorities available to the [Bureau].” This includes the authority to examine lenders “to ‘detect and assess risks to consumers.” According to the Attorneys General, the origination of non-MLA compliant loans to servicemembers constitutes such a risk.
On October 18, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) released a newly updated Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) InfoBase website, which provides examiners and financial institutions access to BSA/AML examination procedures and resources, including the BSA/AML Examination Manual. According to the FFIEC, the InfoBase will “provide just-in-time training for new regulations and for other topics of specific concern to examiners within the FFIEC's member agencies.”
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.”
On October 1, the Federal Reserve Board (Board) issued SR 18-7 to qualifying state member banks and U.S. branches and agencies of foreign banks outlining updated 18-month on-site examination eligibility criteria. As previously covered in InfoBytes, the Board, OCC, and FDIC issued an interim final rule effective August 29—as authorized by the Economic Growth, Regulatory Reform, and Consumer Protection Act—which qualifies banks with less than $3 billion in total assets (an increase from the previous threshold of $1 billion), provided they satisfy additional criteria. SR 18-7 separately lists the relevant eligibility criteria for state member banks and for U.S. branches or agencies of foreign banks, and requires that qualifying banks (i) not be subject to a federal banking agency’s formal enforcement proceeding or order; and (ii) not have experienced a change of control during the previous 12 months that would have required a full-scope examination. Additional eligibility criteria address component and composite examination ratings and risk-based capital ratios.
On September 25, the CFPB issued Bulletin 2018-01, which announces changes to how it communicates supervisory expectations to institutions. According to the bulletin, effective immediately, examination reports and supervisory letters will include two categories of findings that convey supervisory expectations: (i) Matters Requiring Attention (MRAs); and (ii) Supervisory Recommendations (SRs). MRAs will continue to be used to outline specific goals for institutions to accomplish in order to correct violations of law, remediate harmed consumers, and address compliance management system (CMS) weaknesses, and will include timeframes for companies to report on its efforts to address MRAs and timeframes for implementation. SRs will be used when the Bureau has not identified violations of law but noted weaknesses in CMS and will contain recommended actions to address weaknesses. The bulletin notes that neither MRAs nor SRs are legally enforceable, but emphasizes the Bureau will consider an institution’s response in addressing the noted concerns when assessing a compliance rating, prioritizing future supervisory work, or assessing the need for an enforcement action.
On September 26, the OCC issued Bulletin 2018-31, which updates the “Truth in Lending Act” (TILA) booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook, which previously was issued in December 2014. The booklet provides guidance for OCC examiners to be used in connection with the examination and supervision of national banks and federal savings associations, which offer or extend consumer credit products covered by TILA. The updates reflect changes made to Regulation Z, TILA’s implementing regulations, since the booklet’s previous release, and includes procedures implementing the CFPB’s TILA-RESPA integrated disclosure rule (TRID). Additional updates include, among other things, (i) special provisions on certain construction loans; (ii) special provisions relating to small creditors and rural or underserved areas; (iii) changes regarding appraisals for higher-priced mortgage loan exemptions; (iv) updates to mortgage origination examination procedures; and (v) updates to mortgage servicing rules and the small creditor definition.
With the issuance of the new booklet, the OCC rescinds (i) OCC Bulletin 2014-61, “Truth in Lending Act: Revised Comptroller’s Handbook Booklet and Rescissions”; (ii) The TILA sections of OCC Bulletin 2015-27, “Revised Interagency Examination Procedures for Consumer Compliance”; and (iii) OCC Bulletin 2015-42, “Initial Examinations for Compliance With TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule.”
On September 12, the OCC issued Bulletin 2018-28, which updates the “Deposit-Related Credit” booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook previously issued March 2015. The booklet provides guidance for OCC examiners to be used in connection with the examination and supervision of national banks and federal savings associations who offer small-dollar, unsecured deposit-related credit products and services, such as check credit, overdraft protection, and deposit advance products. The booklet also includes, among other things, (i) updated guidance following the rescission of OCC Bulletin 2013-40, “Deposit Advance Products: Final Supervisory Guidance,” (previously covered by InfoBytes here) and the issuance of OCC Bulletin 2018-14, “Installment Lending: Core Lending Principles for Short-Term, Small-Dollar Installment Lending” (previously covered by InfoBytes here); (ii) information concerning limitations and requirements for consumer credit products extended to active-duty servicemembers covered by the Military Lending Act; (iii) integrated citations to third-party risk management guidance and procedures; (iv) information pertaining to new products and services, including sound due diligence practices; and (v) prohibitions against unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices under Dodd-Frank.
On September 11, five federal agencies (the Federal Reserve Board, CFPB, FDIC, NCUA, and OCC) issued a joint statement confirming that supervisory guidance “does not have the force and effect of law, and [that] the agencies do not take enforcement actions based on supervisory guidance.” The statement distinguishes the various types of supervisory guidance—interagency statements, advisories, bulletins, policy statements, questions and answers, and frequently asked questions—from laws or regulations and emphasizes that the intention of supervisory guidance is to outline agencies’ expectations or priorities. The statement highlights five policies and practices related to supervisory guidance: (i) limit the use of numerical thresholds or other “bright-line” requirements; (ii) examiners will not cite to “violations” of supervisory guidance; (iii) request for public comment does not mean the guidance has the force and effect of law; (iv) limit multiple issuances of guidance on the same topic; and (v) continue to emphasize the role of supervisory guidance to examiners and to supervised institutions.
On September 10, the OCC notified national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches and agencies of the interim final rule issued jointly by the OCC, Federal Reserve, and FDIC allowing qualified insured depository institutions with less than $3 billion in total assets to be eligible for an 18-month on-site examination cycle. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.) In addition to meeting the asset threshold, qualifying banks must also (i) have a rating of one or two; (ii) be well capitalized and well managed; (iii) not be subject to a federal banking agency’s formal enforcement proceeding or order; and (iv) not have experienced a change of control within the previous 12 months. The OCC further noted that it reserves the authority to maintain more frequent examinations for banks if necessary or appropriate. The interim final rule, issued pursuant to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (previously Senate bill S. 2155), took effect August 29. Comments on the interim final rule must be received by October 29.
On September 6, the CFPB released its summer 2018 Supervisory Highlights, which outlines its supervisory and oversight actions in the areas of auto loan servicing, credit card account management, debt collection, mortgage servicing, payday lending, and small business lending. The findings of the report cover examinations that generally were completed between December 2017 and May 2018. Highlights of the examination findings include:
- Auto loan servicing. The Bureau determined that billing statements showing “paid-ahead” status after insurance proceeds from a total vehicle loss were applied, where consumers were treated as late if they failed to pay the next month, were deceptive. The Bureau also found that servicers unfairly repossessed vehicles after the repossession should have been canceled because the account was not coded correctly, or because an agreement with consumer was reached.
- Credit card account management. The Bureau found that companies failed to reevaluate accounts for eligibility for a rate reduction under Regulation Z or failed to appropriately reduce annual percentage rates.
- Debt collection. The Bureau found that debt collectors failed to mail debt verifications to consumers before engaging in continued debt collection, activities as required by the FDCPA.
- Mortgage servicing. The Bureau found that mortgage servicers delayed processing permanent modifications after consumers successfully completed their trial modifications, resulting in accrued interest and fees that would not otherwise have accrued, which the Bureau determined was an unfair act or practice.
- Payday lending. The Bureau found that companies threatened to repossess consumer vehicles, notwithstanding that they generally did not actually do so or have a business relationship with an entity capable of doing so, which the Bureau determined was a deceptive practice. The Bureau also found that companies did not obtain valid preauthorized EFT authorizations for debits initiated using debit card numbers or ACH credentials provided for other purposes, in violation of Regulation E.
- Small business lending. The Bureau found that some institutions collect and maintain only limited data on small business lending decisions, which it determined could impede the institution’s ability to monitor ECOA risk. The Bureau noted positive exam findings including, (i) active oversight of an entity’s CMS framework; (ii) maintaining records of policy and procedure updates; and (iii) self-conducted semi-annual ECOA risk assessments, which included small business lending.
The report notes that in response to most examination findings, the companies have already remediated or have plans to remediate affected consumers and implement corrective actions, such as new policies in procedures.
Finally, the report highlights, among other things, (i) two recent enforcement actions that were a result of supervisory activity (covered by InfoBytes here and here); (ii) recent updates to the mortgage servicing rule and TILA-RESPA integrated disclosure rule (covered by InfoBytes here and here); and (iii) HMDA implementation updates (covered by InfoBytes here).
- Tina Tchen to discuss the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund at the AHLA ForWard: Women Advancing Hospitality conference
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Protect yourself from a CFPB investigation" at the National Association of Settlement Purchasers Conference
- APPROVED Webcast: Financial services licensing developments: 2018-2019
- Tina Tchen to deliver keynote address at the American Bar Association Professional Success Summit
- Jeffrey P. Naimon and Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Enforcement and litigation trends" at the American Bankers Association General Counsel Meeting
- Andrea K. Mitchell to discuss "Developments in fair lending law" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Summit on Diversity and Inclusion
- David S. Krakoff to discuss "The DOJ corporate enforcement policy and your disclosure calculus one year in: Are companies benefitting?" at the American Conference Institute International Conference on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
- Moorari K. Shah to discuss "Legal & regulatory issues " at the Opal Group Marketplace Lending & Alternative Financing Summit
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Hot topics in consumer financial services" at the Practising Law Institute Banking Law Institute
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "New CDD Rule: Pitfalls in compliance" at the American Bankers Association/American Bar Association Financial Crimes Enforcement Conference
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Anti-money laundering/OFAC compliance" at the Institute of International Bankers U.S. Regulatory/Compliance Orientation Program