Skip to main content
Menu Icon Menu Icon
Close

InfoBytes Blog

Financial Services Law Insights and Observations
Section Content

Upcoming Events

Filter

Subscribe to our InfoBytes Blog weekly newsletter for news affecting the financial services industry.

  • District Judge Denies Student Loan Servicer’s Motion to Dismiss, Rules CFPB is Constitutional

    Courts

    On August 4, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania denied a motion to dismiss brought by a student loan servicer, ruling that the CFPB is constitutional, and that it has the authority to act against companies without first adopting the rules used to define a specific practice as unfair, deceptive, or abusive. Further, the court found that the Bureau’s complaint is “adequately pleaded.” As previously reported in InfoBytes, the CFPB filed a complaint in January of this year, contending that the student loan servicer systematically created obstacles to repayment and cheated many borrowers out of their rights to lower repayments, causing them to pay much more than they had to for their loans.

    Citing numerous precedents, including several which have already examined the issue of the CFPB’s constitutionality, the court disposed of several arguments raised by the student loan servicer, finding that:

    • There is no merit in the argument that the “CFPB lack[ed] statutory authority to bring an enforcement action without first engaging in rulemaking to declare a specific act or practice unfair, deceptive, or abusive,” because under the provisions of Title X of Dodd-Frank, the CFPB has the authority to declare something as “unlawful” both through rulemaking and litigation.
    • The CFPB isn’t outside the bounds of the Constitution, in part because its provision making it difficult for the President to remove the CFPB’s director isn’t any more burdensome than those of other agencies, such as the FTC. By recognizing this, and that the CFPB director “is not insulated by a second layer of tenure and is removable directly by the President,” the court ruled that the “Bureau’s structure is not constitutionally deficient.”
    • The funding method utilized by the Bureau has parallels in other federal agencies and does not affect presidential authority, stating that “although the CFPB is funded outside of the appropriations process, Congress has not relinquished all control over the agency’s funding because it remains free to change how the Bureau is funded at any time.” The court therefore found that the President’s constitutional powers have not been curtailed.

    The court dismissed the student loan servicer’s assertion that it is unable to “reasonably prepare a response” due to the vague and ambiguous nature of the complaint. Rather, the court argues that the Bureau’s complaint provides enough “multiple specific examples” to warrant a response by way of an answer.

    Courts Student Lending CFPB Dodd-Frank Litigation UDAAP

    Share page with AddThis
  • FHFA Reports Results of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Annual Stress Tests

    Federal Issues

    One August 7, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) published a report providing the results of the fourth annual stress tests conducted by government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs). In March 2017, the FHFA issued orders directing the GSEs to report the results of the required Dodd-Frank Act stress test to enable financial regulators to determine whether the companies have sufficient capital to support operations in adverse or severely adverse economic conditions. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.) According to the report, Dodd-Frank Act Stress Tests Results – Severely Adverse Scenario—which provides modeled projections on possible ranges of future financial results and does not define the entirety of possible outcomes—the GSEs will need to draw between $34.8 billion and $99.6 billion in incremental Treasury aid under a “severely adverse” economic crisis, depending on how deferred tax assets are treated. The losses would leave $158.4 billion to $223.2 billion available to the companies under their current funding commitment agreements. Notably, the projected bailout need is lower than what the FHFA reported last year, which ranged between $49.2 billion and $125.8 billion.

    Federal Issues Lending Mortgages Fannie Mae Freddie Mac Stress Test Dodd-Frank FHFA

    Share page with AddThis
  • OCC, Federal Reserve Solicit Public Comments on Volcker Rule

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On August 2, the OCC announced it is seeking public comments on ways to improve regulations implementing the Volcker Rule, however the agency stressed it is not seeking comment on changes to the underlying statute. The draft notice outlines issues with the rule, which bans banks from engaging in proprietary trading and restricts their ownership of certain funds, explaining that there is “broad recognition that the final rule [implementing the Volcker Rule] should be improved both in design and in application.” Referring to the Treasury Department’s June 2017 report, which identified problems with the design of the final rule and offered recommendations for revision, the OCC’s notice asked for suggestions on how to improve implementation with the understanding that any revisions would require a joint undertaking by the OCC, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the FDIC, and consultation with the SEC and the CFTC. Specifically, the notice seeks comments in the following four areas: (i) scope of entities subject to the final rule; (ii) proprietary trading prohibitions; (iii) covered fund prohibitions; and (iv) requirements for compliance program and metrics reporting.

    Comments must be received within 45 days from publication in the Federal Register.

    Separately, on August 2, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Fed) issued a notice seeking comment on whether to extend for three years the Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Disclosure Requirements Associated with Proprietary Trading and Certain Interests in and Relationships with Covered Funds (Regulation VV).  Regulation VV imposes information reporting requirements on certain banks engaged in significant trading activities, to ensure compliance with the Volcker Rule. Among other things, the Fed invited comment on whether the proposed collection of information is necessary and has practical utility, and ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the collected information, while minimizing the burden on respondents. In its notice, the Fed stated that the information collection “is required in order for covered entities to obtain the benefit of engaging in certain types of proprietary trading or investing in, sponsoring, or having certain relationships with a hedge fund or private equity fund, under the restrictions set forth in [the Volcker Rule].”

    Comments must be received by October 2, 2017.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Treasury Department OCC Volcker Rule Dodd-Frank Federal Register Securities Federal Reserve

    Share page with AddThis
  • CFPB Issues Bulletin Warning Service Providers About Pay-By-Phone Fees

    Consumer Finance

    On July 31, the CFPB issued a bulletin to warn service providers that misleading consumers about pay-by-phone fees may potentially be a violation of Dodd-Frank’s prohibition on unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices. The Bureau also provided guidance regarding its expectations for UDAAP and FDCPA compliance when assessing pay-by-phone fees. According to the bulletin, the CFPB noted several instances where consumers were either not informed up front of the fees that came with paying expenses over the phone or were not offered lower-cost alternatives. The Bureau cited several public enforcement actions, in which it alleged, among other things, that entities (i) misrepresented available payment options or gave the impression that a fee was required to make a payment by phone, when the only purpose of the fee was to expedite the phone payment; (ii) failed to disclose phone pay fees, thus creating the impression that there was no service fee; or (iii) lacked monitoring and oversight programs to deter this type of misleading behavior. The Bureau further encouraged service providers to consult a 2016 bulletin issued to discuss “detecting and preventing consumer harm from production incentives” to examine whether existing or future provider production incentive programs might “steer borrowers to certain payment types or to avoid disclosures,” which it says increases the potential risk for UDAAP.

    Consumer Finance CFPB UDAAP Debt Collection Dodd-Frank FDCPA

    Share page with AddThis
  • Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Testifies Before House Financial Services Committee, Provides Overview of Tailored Regulatory Approach

    Federal Issues

    On July 27, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing entitled “The Annual Testimony of the Secretary of the Treasury on the State of the International Financial System.” Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Tx.) opened the full committee hearing asserting that “the unaccountable Washington bureaucracy must finally be held accountable, [and we] must address the regulatory cost of doing business in the U.S. under Dodd-Frank.” Rep. Hensarling commended President Trump’s Executive Order establishing the core principles for regulating the U.S. financial system and called it “vitally important to us all.”

    Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin was the only witness at the June 27 hearing, offering testimony and answering questions concerning, among other things, (i) praise for the Committee’s passage of the Financial CHOICE act; (ii) tailoring capital requirements for small, mid-sized, and region banks; (iii) identifying a “single, lead regulator” to reduce regulatory overlap; (iv) remedying the Volcker Rule; (v) making the CFPB more accountable through statutory changes; (vi) reforming housing finance, noting that the current system, “in which the GSEs remain in perpetual Federal Housing Finance Agency conservatorship . . .  is not sustainable and leaves taxpayers at risk”; and (vii) addressing tax reform.

    Federal Issues Treasury Department House Financial Services Committee Dodd-Frank Financial CHOICE Act

    Share page with AddThis
  • OCC Acting Comptroller Reiterates Request for CFPB Arbitration Rule Data

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On July 17, OCC Acting Comptroller Keith Noreika delivered a letter to the CFPB reiterating his request to review the supporting data used to develop the Bureau’s final arbitration rule prohibiting the use of mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses in certain contracts for consumer financial products and services. While the CFPB issued assurances that the final rule would not impact the safety or soundness of the financial banking system, Noreika argued that because the Bureau is not a “safety and soundness prudential regulator,” the OCC, as the prudential regulator for the federal banking system, should be allowed to review the underlying data to address potential concerns under Section 1023 in Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act. In response, CFPB Director Richard Cordray stated his team is in the process of gathering the requested data but questioned the “plausible basis” for Noreika’s claim that the final arbitration rule could pose a safety and soundness issue.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Arbitration CFPB OCC Prudential Regulators Dodd-Frank

    Share page with AddThis
  • CFPB Extends Comment Deadline for Small Business Lending Request for Information

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On July 12, the CFPB issued a notice in the Federal Register announcing that, in response to a request from 13 industry trade associations for an additional comment period extension, the Bureau has extended the comment period of the “Request for Information Regarding the Small Business Lending Market” for another 60 days. As previously covered in InfoBytes, the Bureau is seeking responses to its questions regarding the small business lending market and how the implementation of Section 1071 Dodd-Frank Act will affect small business financing. The Bureau also hopes to receive feedback on privacy concerns related to the Section 1071 disclosures. In light of the extension, comments must now be received by September 14.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues CFPB Dodd-Frank Small Business Lending Federal Register

    Share page with AddThis
  • House Passes Financial CHOICE Act of 2017

    Federal Issues

    On June 8, by a vote of 233-186 with no Democrats voting in favor of the bill and one Republican voting against, the House passed the Financial CHOICE Act of 2017 (H.R. 10), as amended, which would repeal or modify provisions of Dodd-Frank and restructure the CFPB. Committee Report 115-163 accompanying House Resolution 375, which provided for consideration H.R. 10 and recommended that the resolution be adopted, outlines the provisions introduced to overhaul existing financial regulations. Included were five additional amendments incorporated into H.R. 10 introduced by members of Congress:

    • Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.): “Revises provisions subjecting certain FDIC and National Credit Union Association functions to congressional appropriations, relating to appointments of positions created by [H.R. 10], and providing congressional access to non-public [Financial Security Oversight Council] information”;
    • Rep. Joseph Hollingsworth (R-Ind.): “Allows closed-end funds that are listed on a national securities exchange, and that meet certain requirements to be considered ‘well-known seasoned issuers’”;
    • Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.): “Expresses the sense of Congress that consumer reporting agencies and their subsidiaries should implement stronger multi-factor authentication procedures when providing access to personal information files to more adequately protect consumer information from identity theft”;
    • Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.): “Requires the Department of Treasury” to submit a report to Congress regarding its efforts to work with Federal bank regulators, financial institutions, and money service businesses to ensure that legitimate financial transactions along the southern border move freely”; and
    • Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), “Requires the [General Services Administration] to study the [Consumer Law Enforcement Agency’s] real estate needs due to changes in the Agency’s structure. It would then authorize the GSA to sell the current CLEA building if CLEA’s real estate needs have changed and there is no government department or agency that can utilize the building.”

    See previous InfoBytes here and here for additional coverage.

    The bill now advances to the Senate where it is unlikely to pass in its current form—a fact acknowledged by both Democrats and Republicans.

    Federal Issues House Financial Services Committee Financial CHOICE Act Congress Federal Legislation Dodd-Frank FDIC NCUA FSOC CFPB Treasury Department

    Share page with AddThis
  • White House Issues Statement Supporting Substitute Amendment to H.R. 10; CBO Releases Cost Estimate

    Federal Issues

    On June 6, the White House Administration issued a statement supporting the Substitute Amendment to the Financial CHOICE Act of 2017. In the statement, the White House announced it is “committed to reforming the Nation’s financial system” and believes the substitute amendment drafted by House Financial Services Committee Chairman, Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) reflects the Administration’s Core Principles in a number of ways. Specifically, the Administration supports the following provisions outlined in H.R.10: (i) eliminating taxpayer bailouts; (ii) simplifying regulations and holding regulators accountable; (iii) facilitating capital formation to encourage economic growth; (iv) allowing identified financial institutions to “opt out of certain regulatory requirements”; (v) reducing the independence of the CFPB; (vi) increasing the use of cost-benefit analysis by financial regulators; and (vii) easing regulatory burdens for community banks.

    “The administration supports these provisions, and looks forward to working with Congress to undo additional mandates from the Dodd-Frank law that unnecessarily raise costs and limit choices for consumers,” the White House asserted in the statement.

    On the same day the White House issued its statement, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a requested analysis of Hensarling's amendment for H.R. 10. The CBO discovered that the changes from the version the House Financial Services Committee initially approved would reduce deficits by an additional $9.5 billion, for a total reduction of $33.6 billion over the 2017-2027 period. CBO stated the majority of the budgetary savings comes from “eliminating the FDIC’s authority to use the Orderly Liquidation Fund and changing how the [CFPB] and certain other regulators are funded.” However, CBO noted it would cost an estimated $11.6 billion over the referenced time period to implement the bill.

    Federal Issues Financial CHOICE Act Federal Legislation House Financial Services Committee CFPB Dodd-Frank Trump

    Share page with AddThis
  • Senators Introduce Bill to Provide Relief to Community Banks

    Federal Issues

    On May 26, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Angus King (I-Me.), and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) introduced bipartisan legislation intended to provide regulatory relief to small financial intuitions. According to a press release issued by Sen. Hatch’s office, the Community Bank Relief Act (S. 1284) would increase the asset threshold from $1 billion to $5 billion, thereby expanding the number of institutions covered by the Small Bank Holding Company Policy Statement (Statement). Based on FDIC data, raising the asset threshold would affect 443 bank holding companies (BHC) and other financial institutions. Additionally, 96 percent of BHCs and savings and loan holding companies would be covered by the Statement compared to 87 percent as of December 31, 2016, according to the Federal Reserve (Fed). The legislators believe the bill will improve the Dodd-Frank Act “without compromising safety standards” and help “small financial institutions provide households and small businesses more quality-based loans” that will advance economic growth. Notably, the Fed will still be able to exclude any BHC or savings and loan company if it determines the action is warranted.

    Federal Issues Community Banks Federal Legislation FDIC Federal Reserve Dodd-Frank Bank Holding Companies

    Share page with AddThis

Pages