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  • Massachusetts Federal Court Reverses Prior Certification of Class in Fair Lending Case

    Lending

    On September 18, the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts decertified a class of borrowers who allege that their mortgage lender violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Fair Housing Act by allowing its brokers to impose charges not related to a borrower’s creditworthiness. Barrett v. Option One Mortg. Corp., No. 08-10157, 2012 WL 4076465 (D. Mass. Sep. 18, 2012). The borrowers claim that the lender’s policy had a disparate impact on African-American borrowers who allegedly received higher rates than similar white borrowers. In March 2011, the court certified this class of borrowers, holding that the plaintiffs demonstrated commonality sufficient for class certification based on a statistical analysis comparing APRs paid by white and African-American borrowers that appeared to show slightly higher APRs for minority borrowers. Subsequent to the court’s March 2011 decision, the Supreme Court held in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541 (2011) that a policy that allows local units discretion to act can only present a common question if the local units share a mode of exercising that discretion. Following the Supreme Court’s decision, the lender in this case moved to decertify the class. The court agreed with the lender that the borrowers’ statistical analysis based on aggregate data does not consider each individual broker. The court held that the borrowers in this case lack commonality because they cannot show that all of the lender’s brokers exercised discretion in the same way and granted the lenders motion to decertify the class.

    Fair Housing Fair Lending ECOA

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  • FHFA Inspector General Publishes Two Reports

    Lending

    On September 18, the Inspector General (IG) for the FHFA published a report on the FHFA’s oversight of management of high-risk sellers and servicers by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises). The high-risk seller/servicer report presents a review of the Enterprises’ high risk counterparties and noted that more than 300 are on the Enterprises’ watch lists while more than forty have been blocked from doing business with the Enterprises. To better manage counterparty risk, the IG recommends that the FHFA promulgate standards for the Enterprises to develop contingency plans for handling a large seller/servicer’s failure, and that the FHFA finalize its proposed guidance for FHFA examiners to use in assessing the Enterprises’ contingency plans.

    On the same day, the FHFA IG published a report regarding Fannie Mae’s purchase and transfer of certain mortgage servicing rights on approximately 384,000 loans for roughly $512 million. The IG determined that the amount paid was consistent with other such purchases made as part of a Fannie Mae program through which Fannie Mae transferred mortgage servicing rights from a regular servicer to a specialty servicer. While it determined that Fannie Mae did not overpay for the servicing rights in context, the IG recommended that the FHFA (i) consider requiring the Enterprises to seek approval for high costs initiatives, (ii) ensure additional scrutiny of pricing of future significant servicing transactions, (iii) reevaluate the Fannie Mae transfer program, and (iv) follow through with Fannie Mae’s implementation of prior FHFA directions regarding the purchase and transfer of mortgage servicing rights.

    Freddie Mac Fannie Mae Mortgage Origination Mortgage Servicing FHFA

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  • FFIEC Releases 2011 HMDA Data

    Lending

    On September 18, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) released data collected in 2011 under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA). The data include information on loan amount, loan type and purpose, property type and location, pricing, and applicant characteristics. The FFIEC release notes that the 2011 data reflect that (i) the FHA’s share of first-lien loans declined in 2011, but there remains a heavy reliance on the FHA program, (ii) only a small minority of first lien loans had APRs above the loan price reporting thresholds, and (iii) for conventional home-purchase loans, black and Hispanic white applicants experienced higher denial rates than non-Hispanic white applicants, similar to in prior years. While examiners consider HMDA data when assessing lender compliance with fair lending laws, the FFIEC cautions that such data do not include many potential determinants of creditworthiness and loan pricing, such as the borrower's credit history, debt-to-income ratio, and the loan-to-value ratio.

    FFIEC FHA HMDA

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  • CFPB Readies for Launch of Short-Form Credit Card Agreement Pilot Program

    Consumer Finance

    On September 18, the CFPB published a Notice and Request for Comment on information it plans to collect with regard to a pilot program designed to test a short-form credit card agreement. The CFPB announced last year its plan to partner with Pentagon Federal Credit Union to test its prototype agreement. The recently-published notice indicates that Pentagon Federal Credit Union will begin sending the short-form agreement to new cardholders in the fourth quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013, and that the CFPB plans to conduct qualitative research through surveys of new cardholders. Parties interested in commenting on the CFPB’s proposed research have through October 18, 2012 to do so.

    Credit Cards CFPB

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  • Fannie Mae Names New General Counsel

    Lending

    On September 18, Fannie Mae announced that Bradley Lerman will join the company on October 1, 2012 as Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary. Mr. Lerman previously was associate general counsel and chief litigation counsel at Pfizer, Inc. Prior to his work at Pfizer, Mr. Lerman was in private practice, focusing on white collar defense, product liability, and securities litigation. Before that he served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

    Fannie Mae

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  • FinCEN Plans Roundtable on Customer Due Diligence Proposal, Releases Materials from July Hearing

    Financial Crimes

    On September 17, FinCEN announced that it will host a roundtable discussion on its proposed customer due diligence requirements on September 28, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The announcement identifies a series of “key issues” on which the roundtable discussion will focus, including (i) how institutions currently identify, collect, and verify beneficial ownership information, (ii) the costs associated with collecting and verifying such information, and (iii) how institutions currently conduct due diligence on trust accounts. Last week, FinCEN released a summary of a public hearing held in July on its customer due diligence proposal. The summary provides the final agenda for the hearing, a general summary of topics covered, and statements and other materials submitted for the record.

    Anti-Money Laundering FinCEN

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  • NIST Finalizes Information Security Risk Assessment Guidelines

    FinTech

    On September 18, the National Institute of Standards and Technology released a final version of its risk assessment guidelines, which are designed to advise all types of government and private organizations—including financial institutions—about information security risks and information technology infrastructures. The Guide for Conducting Risk Assessments provides guidance regarding (i) threats, (ii) vulnerabilities, (iii) impact to missions and business operations, and (iv) the likely threat of exploitation of vulnerabilities in information systems and their physical environment to cause harm or adverse consequence.

    NIST Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security

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  • Student Lender Agrees to Settle TCPA Collection Litigation

    Consumer Finance

    On September 17, the U.S. District Court for the District of Washington approved a settlement entered into between a student lender and a class of borrowers who alleged that the lender violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by employing an automated dialing system to place collection calls to borrowers’ cell phones. The lender and its affiliated companies agreed to pay $24 million to resolve the case and avoid the costs of further proceedings, but the lender continues to vigorously deny the allegations. According to counsel for the class, the settlement, which the parties have been negotiating since 2010, is the largest settlement to date under the TCPA.

    TCPA Student Lending

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  • HUD Plans New Reverse Mortgage Platform

    Lending

    On September 11, HUD announced the launch of a new platform to manage its home equity conversion mortgage portfolio. Mortgagee Letter 2012-17 advises mortgagees of the new system and related claim enhancements, and directs mortgagees to additional information about the new online platform.

    HUD Reverse Mortgages

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  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Implement Numerous Selling Updates, Announce Appraisal Submission Enhancements

    Lending

    On September 14, Freddie Mac issued Bulletin 2012-19, which implements changes to the requirements for Relief Refinance Mortgages announced on July 31, 2012. The Bulletin also notifies sellers that (i) Freddie Mac no longer is purchasing balloon/reset mortgages, (ii) the Selling Guide has been updated to reflect that at least one borrower on a refinance must have held title and resided in the property for the prior twelve months, and (iii) several requirements for the Selling System Servicing Released Sales Process have been updated and revised.

    Also on September 14, Fannie Mae announced in Selling Guide Announcement SEL-2012-09 numerous enhancements to the underwriting and documentation policies for Refi Plus and DU Refi Plus loans, including to (i) reduce representation and warranties, (ii) provide an alternative to income verification for certain payment changes, (iii) reduce income and assets documentation, and (iv) provide an alternative qualification method when removing a borrower.

    On September 18, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced that the appraisal submission process through the Uniform Collateral Data Portal will be enhanced on October 7, 2012.

    Freddie Mac Fannie Mae Mortgage Origination

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