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  • Massachusetts Regulator Offers Interpretation of Mortgage Loan Originator Exclusivity Requirement

    State Issues

    On May 10, the Division of Banks of the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations (Division) issued a letter determining that a professional employer organization (PEO) may provide limited human resources services to Massachusetts licensed mortgage lenders and brokers without violating an exclusivity requirement governing the employment of mortgage loan originators in the Commonwealth. The exclusivity requirement prohibits Massachusetts licensed mortgage loan originators from being employed by more than one “entity,” which, as defined by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 255F, Section 4(b), effectively prohibits a mortgage loan originator from being employed by more than one mortgage lender or broker. The opinion letter stems from a request made last year from a Massachusetts-based human resources service provider (Service Provider) inquiring as to whether the exclusivity requirement prohibits Massachusetts licensed mortgage lenders and brokers employing mortgage loan originators from outsourcing human resource services. The Service Provider—operating as a PEO—stated that it provides human resources services to small business clients, and while it is deemed the “employer” of the client's employees solely for designated human resource functions, the client remains the employer for all other purposes. Because of this, and since the Service Provider offers functions that are unrelated to a loan originator's mortgage industry work, the Division asserted “that the exclusivity provision . . . operates to limit a mortgage loan originator to a single licensed mortgage broker or lender for purposes of the originator's mortgage industry work.” Accordingly, the Division concluded that the Service Provider may provide its services to Massachusetts licensed mortgage lenders and brokers without violating the exclusivity requirement.

    State Issues Mortgage Origination Mortgage Lenders

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  • DOJ Enters $18 Million Settlement with Healthcare Providers Following False Claims Act Whistleblower Action

    State Issues

    On April 27, the Department of Justice announced that two Indiana-based healthcare providers agreed to settle allegations that financial arrangements between the two entities violated the federal and state False Claims Act and the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. DOJ alleged that one of the providers made available to the other an interest-free line of credit consistently in excess of $10 million, the balance of which such other provider “was allegedly not expected to substantially repay” as a means of inducing referrals for obstetrics and gynecology patients to seek medical attention at a particular hospital. The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits “the knowing and willful payment of any remuneration to induce the referral of services or items that are paid for by a federal health care program, such as Medicaid,” and claims that are submitted to federal health care programs in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute can also constitute false claims under the False Claims Act. The settlement resolves a qui tam case filed by an individual under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. Under the terms of the settlement, the providers agreed to pay a total of $18 million, with each of them paying $5.1 million to the United States and $3.9 million to the State of Indiana.

    State Issues State AG False Claims Act / FIRREA Whistleblower

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  • Vermont Enacts Law Expanding Requirements for Certain Businesses Regulated by Department of Financial Regulation

    State Issues

    On May 4, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed into law H. 182, which amends a number of laws relating to businesses regulated by the state’s Department of Financial Regulation. Among other things, the law: (i) amends registration requirements for consumer litigation funding companies; (ii) amends the licensing requirements for licensed lenders, money transmitters, check cashers and currency exchangers, debt adjusters, and loan servicers; (iii) amends the mortgage loan originator prelicensing and relicensing education requirements; (iv) defines the term “virtual currency” under the Money Services chapter and provides that “virtual currency” is a permissible investment for licensees; and (v) sets forth requirements for money transmitters related to receipts and refunds. The law also creates new types of licenses (and other related requirements (e.g., disclosures, record retention)) for “loan solicitation” activity, which includes, among other things, lead generation. The law took effect May 4, 2017, with the exception of provisions relating to money transmitter receipts and refunds, lead generator disclosure requirements, and loan solicitor disclosure requirements, which take effect July 1, 2017.

    State Issues Licensing Virtual Currency

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  • Gov. Cuomo Announces New Title Insurance Regulations Target Business Gifts, Ancillary Fees and Transactions with Affiliates

    State Issues

    On May 1, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced two new proposed regulations to “crack down on unscrupulous practices in the title insurance industry.” According to the Governor, the proposed measures were drafted in response to an investigation by the state Department of Financial Services (“NYDFS”), which found that “meals, entertainment, gifts” and other “inducements” provided in exchange for referring business to a title insurance company or agents, were charged to customers under the guise of “marketing expenses.”  The first proposed regulation would, among other things, clarify the rules about “meals and entertainment” expenses, and other ancillary fees that title agents or title insurers may charge a customer. The second proposed regulation would require title insurance companies or agents that generate a portion of their business from affiliates to function separately and independently from any affiliate and obtain business from other sources. Importantly, a press release issued by NYDFS explains that “emergency” versions of both of these regulations have already been adopted by NYDFS (in response to the aforementioned investigation). As explained by NYDFS, the emergency rules, which are currently in effect, will remain in effect until final regulations are adopted.

    State Issues Agency Rulemaking & Guidance Insurance NYDFS

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  • Online Lenders Alliance Expresses “Strong Opposition” to Proposed Rate Cap Legislation in California and Maryland

    State Issues

    In an April 12 letter to California Assembly member Matthew Dababneh (who chairs the state Assembly’s Committee on Banking and Finance), the Online Lenders Alliance (OLA) expressed its “strong opposition” to legislation introduced in California that would impose an interest rate cap for consumer loans or lines of credit in those states. Specifically, the Alliance contended that the legislation (A.B. 1109) would “significantly impact a consumer’s ability to find credit.” The OLA also communicated similar concerns in a letter to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan requesting that he veto cross-filed legislation (SB 527/ HB 1270) passed by the Maryland General Assembly.

    State Issues Lending Consumer Finance

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  • Upon Review, NYDFS Requires International Bank to Continue Independent Monitoring

    State Issues

    On April 21, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) announced it had entered into a supplemental consent order with an international bank to modify its 2012 and 2014 consent orders. In 2012, the bank agreed to engage an independent on-site monitor for 24 months to evaluate the New York branch’s BSA/AML and OFAC compliance programs and operations. The bank was also issued a $340 million civil money penalty. The 2014 consent order outlined the monitor’s findings including reports of significant failures in the bank’s transaction monitoring. The 2014 order extended the engagement of the monitor for another two years, outlined remedial measures to address continued deficiencies, and required the bank to pay an additional $300 million civil money penalty.

    While NYDFS acknowledged in the 2017 supplemental consent order that the bank has made significant improvements in its BSA/AML compliance program, the engagement of the monitor has been extended until December 31, 2018 with all the other terms and conditions of the 2012 and 2014 consent orders remaining in full effect.

    State Issues Financial Crimes Anti-Money Laundering Bank Secrecy Act OFAC

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  • Maryland and Tennessee Expand Use of Reporting Requirements for Money Services Businesses

    State Issues

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Nationwide Licensing System (NMLS) for Money Services Businesses (MSBs) recently unveiled the MSB Call Report that standardizes and streamlines routine reporting requirements for state-licensed MSBs. On April 18, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed into law HB 182, which requires specified licensees to obtain and maintain a valid unique identifier and transfer licensing information to the NMLS. The law will go into effect July 1, 2017. Among those who must now register with NMLS are check cashers, collection agencies, consumer lenders, debt management service providers, credit service businesses, and sales finance companies. Licenses for mortgage lenders, mortgage originators, and money transmitters are already processed through NMLS. The Commissioner of Financial Regulation is charged with establishing a time period that is “not less 2 months within which a licensee must transfer licensing information to the NMLS.” Furthermore, at least 30 days before the transfer period begins, the Commissioner shall notify all licensees of the transfer period and provide instructions for the transfer of licensing information to NMLS.

    On April 12, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam enacted SB 1202, authorizing Tennessee’s Department of Financial Institutions to license industrial loan and thrift companies, title lenders, and individuals regulated under the Check Cashing Act or the Premium Finance Company Act through a multi-state automated licensing system. The law allows for the sharing of information—subject to specified confidentiality requirements—with state and federal regulatory officials having consumer finance industry oversight authority or finance industry oversight. Licenses for these types of entities will expire on December 31 of each year. The law includes staged effective dates, the first being July 1, 2017.

    State Issues Consumer Finance Lending NMLS Mortgage Origination Licensing

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  • Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System Unveils New Money Services Businesses Call Report

    State Issues

    On April 1, the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS) Money Services Businesses (MSB) unveiled “the first comprehensive report to consolidate state MSB reporting requirements and provide a database of nationwide MSB transaction activity.” It also allows licensees to report directly in NMLS  for all states on a quarterly and annual basis. The release of the MSB Call Report culminates “a multi-year effort by state regulators to develop a tool to standardize and streamline routine reporting requirements for state-licensed Money Services Businesses”—including money transmitters, check cashers, and prepaid card issuers. The MSB Call Report contains three sections: (i) “company financial information”; (ii) “information about the licensee’s company and state level transactional activity”; (iii) “company permissible investments information”; (iv) “and transaction destination country information.” According to the MSB Call Report webpage, 18 state agencies will adopt the MSB Call Report for Q1 2017 reporting.

    NMLS is the system of record for non-depository, financial services licensing or registration in participating state, territory and local agencies. Although NMLS does not grant or deny license authority, it does—in participating jurisdictions—serve as the official system for companies and individuals seeking to apply for, amend, renew and surrender licenses. NMLS is also the sole system of licensure for mortgage companies and the system of record for the registration of depositories, subsidiaries of depositories, and Mortgage Loan Originators (MLOs) under the CFPB’s Regulation G (S.A.F.E. Mortgage Licensing Act—Federal Registration of Residential Mortgage Loan Originators).

    Additional information and a list of the state agencies that have adopted the report as of March 2017 can be accessed through the NMLS Resource Center.

    State Issues Lending NMLS Call Report Mortgage Origination Licensing

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  • New Mexico Enacts New Laws Affecting Payday Lenders, Check Cashing Service Providers, and the Enforcement of Service Contracts / Warranties

    State Issues

    On April 6, New Mexico enacted H.B. 347, a bill amending the New Mexico Small Loan Act of 1955 (NMSLA) and Bank Installment Loan Act of 1959 (NMILA) to effectively eliminate “payday loans” in the state by requiring that loans of $5,000 or less be made pursuant to the NMSLA or NMILA. Specifically, the new law caps the annual percentage rate of such loans at 175% and requires lenders operating in New Mexico to provide loan terms of at least 120 days, and a minimum repayment schedule of four installments of substantially equal amounts. The new law also limits the fees and charges a lender may assess in connection with loans made under the NMSLA or NMILA as well as the number of times a lender may present a check or other debit for payment. Furthermore, lenders are prohibited from extending loans under the NMSLA or NMILA if the consumer has not repaid any loans previously obtained under these acts, and all lenders must report the terms of these loans to consumer reporting agencies. Notably, these new requirements do not apply to federally insured depository institutions. Moreover, H.B. 347—which takes effect on January 1, 2018—will be enforced exclusively by the state. Counties, municipalities, and other political subdivisions of the state are preempted from any regulation of terms and conditions regarding these loans whether by ordinance, resolution, or otherwise. A violation of either the NMSLA or the NMILA will constitute an unfair or deceptive trade practice under New Mexico’s Unfair Practices Act.

    Also on April 6, Governor Susana Martinez signed into law S.B. 220, a bill that amends the Service Contract Regulation Act by adding and amending definitions; providing for surety through insurance policies; and providing specific information to be included into contracts and warranties. Specifically, the amendments—which are scheduled to take effect on June 16—allow providers to obtain a reimbursement insurance policy in lieu of maintaining a deposit with the Superintendent of Insurance.

    That same day, Governor Martinez also enacted H.B. 276, a bill that increased from $500 to $2,500 the revenue threshold within a 30-day period that triggers New Mexico’s Uniform Money Services Act licensing requirement for check cashing businesses. H.B. 276 is scheduled to take effect July 1.

    State Issues Payday Lending Check Cashing Insurance

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  • State AGs, Industry Groups Submit Comments Addressing CFPB’s Proposed Delay of Prepaid Accounts Rule

    State Issues

    As previously covered in InfoBytes, the Bureau released its final rule (the “Prepaid Accounts Rule”) on prepaid financial products in October of last year in order to provide consumers with additional federal protections under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act and also to offer consumers standard, easy-to-understand information about prepaid accounts. Recently, however, the CFPB announced its intention to delay the effective date of its Prepaid Accounts Rule by six months. If approved, the proposed extension would push back the current October 1, 2017, effective date to April 1, 2018. According to the proposed rule and request for public comment published by the Bureau in the March 15 Federal Register, the extension comes in response to comments received from “some industry participants” who “believe they will have difficulty complying with certain provisions.” The CFPB has taken the position that extending the deadline for compliance “would, among other things, help industry participants address certain packaging-related logistical issues for prepaid accounts that are sold at retail locations.” Comments on the proposal were due April 5.

    State AG’s Letter. On April 5, attorneys general from 17 states and the District of Columbia submitted a letter to congressional leaders presenting various arguments against pending House and Senate resolutions (S.J. Res. 19, H.J. Res. 62, and H.J. Res. 73) providing for congressional disapproval and effectively nullifying the CFPB’s Prepaid Accounts Rule. The state attorneys general—including AGs for the District of Columbia, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, along with the Executive Director of the Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection—argued, among other things, that consumer protections provided by the Rule are important because, among other things, “consumers frequently report concerns about hidden and abusive fees as well as fraudulent transactions that unfairly deplete the funds loaded onto prepaid cards.” The AGs’ letter notes further that prepaid cards are often used by “vulnerable consumers” who have limited or no access to a traditional bank account. Notably, although they characterize these congressional resolutions as a “misplaced effort,” the state AGs acknowledge that the Congressional Review Act “gives Congress, with the President’s signature, a window to veto a rule from going into effect.”

    American Bankers Association (ABA) Letter. In another comment letter, submitted on April 3, the ABA commended the CFPB for “proposing to extend the deadline” because, among other things, “some industry participants, especially those offering prepaid cards in retail stores, may have difficulty complying with certain provisions.”  The ABA also noted that the extension of time presents an opportunity for the Bureau to “consider making adjustments as appropriate to ensure unnecessary disruption to consumers’ access to, and use of, prepaid accounts.” As explained in the letter, the ABA’s primary concern about the Prepaid Accounts Rule “remains the inconsistency and lack of clarity of the regulation’s distinction between checking accounts and prepaid accounts.” To this end, the ABA recommends that the Bureau use the extra time to “remove inconsistencies in the Rule and clarify the distinction between a prepaid account and a checking account to ensure that banks do not inadvertently violate the regulation and risk significant potential liability and supervisory actions.” The ABA’s letter also calls for “similar changes” to the “definition of ‘payroll account’” in order to further distinguish product types.

    Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) Letter. Also on April 3, the ICBA also submitted a short comment letter stating, among other things, that it “fully supports extending the effective date” as the additional time will “ensure that systems and technology changes could be made to facilitate compliance.”

    State Issues State AG CFPB Prepaid Rule EFTA ABA ICBA

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