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  • Federal Reserve fines Taiwanese bank $29 million for anti-money laundering compliance deficiencies

    Financial Crimes

    On January 17, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) ordered a Taiwanese bank to pay a $29 million penalty in connection with alleged Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering (BSA/AML) violations. According to the Fed’s Order, examinations conducted in 2016 identified “significant deficiencies” in three of the bank’s U.S. branches’ BSA/AML compliance and risk management controls. In addition to assessing a penalty, the Order required the bank and its New York, Chicago, and San Jose branches to, among other things, (i) submit a written plan from the board of directors for improving senior management oversight, including building a sustainable governance framework for BSA/AML compliance; (ii) submit compliance plans for enhanced internal controls, independent testing, risk assessment, and employee training; (iii) submit a revised program designed to conduct customer due diligence; (iv) ensure timely, accurate, and complete suspicious activity monitoring and reporting; (v) engage an independent third-party to review the identification and reporting of suspicious activity “involving high risk customers or transactions”; (vi) comply with Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations; and (vii) submit periodic progress reports to the branches’ applicable Federal Reserve Banks detailing actions taken to comply with the provisions of the order.

    Financial Crimes Federal Reserve Anti-Money Laundering Bank Secrecy Act Bank Compliance International OFAC SARs

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  • CFPB succession update: CFPB requests zero funding; seeks public comment regarding Bureau’s activities; & more

    Federal Issues

    On January 17, in a letter to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney requested zero dollars for the Bureau’s quarterly operating funds. Each fiscal quarter, as required by law, the CFPB formally requests that the Federal Reserve transfer a specified amount of money to the Bureau so it can perform the functions outlined in its budget. In his letter, Mulvaney stated that the prior Director maintained a “reserve fund” for the CFPB, and the money in this fund is sufficient to cover the CFPB’s expenses for the second quarter. This will be the first time in the history of the CFPB that its Director has requested no additional amount to fund quarterly operations. The CFPB also announced its plan to publish a series of Requests for Information (RFIs) in the Federal Register seeking public input on the way the Bureau is performing its statutory obligations. These RFIs will request “comment on enforcement, supervision, rulemaking, market monitoring, and education activities.” The first RFI will seek information regarding the Bureau’s Civil Investigative Demand processes and procedures.

    On January 18, the CFPB voluntarily dismissed its case against four online installment lenders for allegedly deceiving customers by collecting debts that were not legally owed, previously covered by InfoBytes here. The complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleged, among other things, that the lenders engaged in unfair, abusive, and deceptive acts—a violation of the Dodd-Frank Act—by collecting on installment loans that are partially or wholly void under state law. In September 2017, the case was transferred to Kansas, where the Bureau’s notice of dismissal was filed. The notice does not specify a reason for the dismissal.

    Federal Issues CFPB Succession CFPB Enforcement CIDs Federal Reserve Federal Register UDAAP Installment Loans Debt Collection

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  • Fed terminates foreclosure enforcement actions, fines five banks CMPs

    Lending

    On January 10, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) announced the termination of ten enforcement actions for legacy mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure processing activities, along with the issuance of more than $35 million in combined civil money penalties (CMPs) against five of the ten banks. Combined with penalties previously assessed against other supervised firms (see previous InfoBytes coverage here), the Fed’s mortgage servicing enforcement actions have totaled approximately $1.1 billion in penalties. The CMPs assessed against the five banks range from $3.5 million to $14 million. 

    According to the Fed, the termination of the ten enforcement actions is a result of “evidence of sustainable improvements in the firms’ oversight and mortgage servicing practices.” Under the terms of the previously issued consent orders, in addition to the CMPs, the banks were required to (i) improve residential mortgage loan servicing oversight, and (ii) correct deficiencies in residential mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure processing for banks with Fed supervised-mortgage servicing subsidiaries.

    The Fed also announced the termination of two related joint enforcement actions (see here and here) with the OCC, FDIC and FHFA (a party to only one of the actions) against key mortgage servicing service providers. According to the announcement, the terminations were a result of proof of “sustainable improvements” in the companies’ foreclosure-related practices.

    Lending Mortgages Mortgage Servicing Foreclosure Enforcement Federal Reserve

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  • Federal Reserve Publishes Stress Test, CCAR FAQs

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On January 8, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) published an updated set of questions and answers to assist financial institutions in complying with the Dodd-Frank Act-mandated stress tests (DFAST) and Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR). According to the Fed, the FAQs are designed to provide answers concerning DFAST and CCAR reporting requirements and related guidance, and generally cover applicable questions that have been asked by covered financial institutions since August 1, 2017. The Fed instructs financial institutions that CCAR projections should only reflect new accounting standards if the standards were implemented prior to December 31 of the previous calendar year. For material business changes occurring in the fourth quarter of a year, financial institutions should discuss any changes that may materially impact the institution’s capital adequacy and funding profile in their CCAR filings. The Fed will review the information when making modelling projections and may request additional information. The Fed also explains the circumstances in which a bank is required to issue replacement capital to stay in compliance with its capital plan.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve Stress Test CCAR Dodd-Frank

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  • Agencies finalize plans to further streamline Call Reports

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On January 3, the Federal Reserve Board, FDIC, and OCC (agencies)—as members of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC)—announced finalized plans to reduce data reporting requirements and other regulatory requirements associated with the Consolidated Reports of Condition and Income (Call Reports) for financial institutions. According to the FFIEC, after reviewing comments related to the joint June 2017 proposal, the finalized changes will include:

    • Reducing or remove the reporting frequency for approximately seven percent of the data items required on the Call Report for small institutions, effective June 30, 2018; and
    • Revising Call Report schedules to align with the changes in accounting for equity securities, effective March 21, 2018.

    The FFIEC noted that the agencies will not proceed with their June 2017 proposal to revise the instructions for determining past due status.

    In addition to the June 2017 proposal, previous requests for proposed burden-reducing Call Report revisions were submitted by the agencies in August 2016 and November 2017 (see InfoBytes’ coverage of the August request here and the November request here).

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve FDIC OCC Call Report

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  • Buckley Sandler Insights: Fed's LFI Risk Management Principles Open for Comments

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On January 4, the Federal Reserve (Fed) issued for public comment proposed guidance setting forth core principles of effective risk management for Large Financial Institutions (“LFI”s) (“Risk Management proposal”). Given that it is increasingly likely that Congress will release financial institutions with assets below $250 billion from “SIFI” designation, the Fed’s guidance yesterday is a further effort to ensure that risk at LFIs will continue to be managed well even after many of them are no longer subject to other SIFI obligations. The proposal would apply to domestic bank holding companies and savings and loan holding companies with total consolidated assets of $50 billion or more; the U.S. operations of foreign banking organizations (“FBOs”) with combined U.S. assets of $50 billion or more; and any state member bank subsidiary of these institutions. The proposal would also apply to any systemically important nonbank financial company designated by the Financial Stability Oversight Council (“FSOC”) for Fed supervision. The proposed guidance clarifies the Fed’s supervisory expectations of these institutions’ core principals with respect to effective senior management; the management of business lines; and independent risk management (“IRM”) and controls.

    The Risk Management proposal is part of the Fed’s broader initiative to develop a supervisory rating system and related guidance that would align its consolidated supervisory framework for LFIs. Last August, the Fed issued for public comment two related proposals: a new rating system for LFIs (“proposed LFI rating system”) and guidance addressing supervisory expectations for board directors (“Board Expectations proposal”). (See previous InfoBytes coverage on the proposals.) The proposed LFI rating system is designed to evaluate LFIs on whether they possess sufficient financial and operational strength and resilience to maintain safe and sound operations through a range of conditions. With regard to the Board Expectations proposal, the January 4 proposal establishes supervisory expectations relevant to the assessment of a firm’s governance and controls, which consists of three chief components: (i) effectiveness of a firm’s board of directors, (ii) management of business lines, independent risk management and controls, and (iii) recovery planning. This guidance sets forth the Fed’s expectations for LFIs with respect to the second component—the management of business lines and IRM and controls, and builds on previous supervisory guidance. In general, the proposal “is intended to consolidate and clarify the [Fed’s] existing supervisory expectations regarding risk management.”

    The January 4 release delineates the roles and responsibilities for individuals and functions related to risk management. Accordingly, it is organized in three parts: (i) core principals of effective senior management; (ii) core principals of the management of business lines; and (iii) core principles of IRM and controls.

    Senior Management

    The Risk Management proposal defines senior management as “the core group of individuals directly accountable to the board of directors for the sound and prudent day-to-day management of the firm.” Two key responsibilities of senior management are overseeing the activities of the firm’s business lines and the firm’s IRM and system of internal control. The proposed guidance highlights the principle that: Senior management is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the firm and ensuring safety and soundness and compliance with internal policies and procedures, laws and regulations, including those related to consumer protection.

    Management of Business Lines

    The proposal refers to “business line management” as the core group of individuals responsible for prudent day-to-day management of a business line and accountable to senior management for that responsibility. For LFIs that are not subject to supervision by the Large Institution Supervision Coordinating Committee (“LISCC”) these expectations would apply to any business line where a significant control disruption, failure, or loss event could result in a material loss of revenue, profit, or franchise value, or result in significant consumer harm.

    A firm’s business line management should:

    • Execute business line activities consistent with the firm’s strategy and risk tolerance.
    • Identify, measure, and manage the risks associated with the business activities under a broad range of conditions, incorporating input from IRM.
    • Provide a business line with the resources and infrastructure sufficient to manage the business line’s activities in a safe and sound manner, and in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including those related to consumer protection, as well as policies, procedures, and limits.
    • Ensure that the internal control system is effective for the business line operations.
    • Be held accountable, with business line staff, for operating within established policies and guidelines, and acting in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and supervisory guidance, including those related to consumer protection.

    Independent Risk Management and Controls

    The Risk Management proposal describes core principles of a firm’s independent risk management function, system of internal control, and internal audit function. The guidance does not prescribe in detail the governance structure for a firm’s IRM and controls. While the guidance does not dictate specifics regarding governance structure, it does set forth requirements with respect to the roles of the Chief Risk Officer and Chief Audit Executive:

    • The CRO should establish and maintain IRM that is appropriate for the size, complexity, and risk profile of the firm.
    • The Chief Audit Executive should have clear roles and responsibilities to establish and maintain an internal audit function that is appropriate for the size, complexity and risk profile of the firm.

    The proposal requires that a firm’s IRM function be sufficient to provide an objective, critical assessment of risks and evaluates whether a firm remains aligned with its stated risk tolerance. Specifically, a firm’s IRM function should:

    • Evaluate whether the firm’s risk tolerance appropriately captures the firm’s material risks and confirm that the risk tolerance is consistent with the capacity of the risk management framework.
    • Establish enterprise-wide risk limits consistent with the firm’s risk tolerance and monitor adherence to such limits.
    • Identify and measure the firm’s risks.
    • Aggregate risks and provide an independent assessment of the firm’s risk profile.
    • Provide the board and senior management with risk reports that accurately and concisely convey relevant, material risk data and assessments in a timely manner.

    With regard to internal controls, the proposed guidance builds upon the expectations described in the Fed’s Supervisory Letter 12-17. A firm should have a system of internal control to guide practices, provide appropriate checks and balances, and confirm quality of operations. In particular, the guidance states that a firm should:

    • Identify its system of internal control and demonstrate that it is commensurate with the firm’s size, scope of operations, activities, risk profile, strategy, and risk tolerance, and consistent with all applicable laws and regulations, including those related to consumer protection.
    • Regularly evaluate and test the effectiveness of internal controls, and monitor functioning of controls so that deficiencies are identified and communicated in a timely manner.

    With respect to internal audit, the proposed guidance does not expand upon the Fed’s expectations; rather it references existing supervisory expectations. The proposed guidance highlights that a firm should adhere to the underlying principle that its internal audit function should examine, evaluate, and perform independent assessments of the firm’s risk management and internal control systems and report findings to senior management and the firm’s audit committee.

    Comments on the Fed’s proposed guidance are due by March 15.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve Risk Management LFI SIFIs Bank Regulatory Bank Supervision

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  • FinCEN Updates Bank Secrecy Act FAQs

    Financial Crimes

    Recently, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) updated its “Answers to Frequently Asked Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) Questions.” The December update provided the following, among other things: (i) “depository institutions are not required to file a Designation of Exempt Person form . . . with respect to the transfer of currency to or from any of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks” (in accordance with amended 31 CFR 1020.315); (ii) guidelines for filing the Designation of Exempt Person form; and (iii) guidance concerning the types of identifying information financial institutions should obtain when a federal, state or local government official engages in a transaction over a certain amount in an official capacity. FinCEN stated that “the answers are not meant to be comprehensive, apply to all factual situations, or to replace or supersede the BSA regulations.”

    Financial Crimes FinCEN Bank Secrecy Act Department of Treasury Federal Reserve

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  • Agencies Release CRA Asset-Size Threshold Adjustments

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On December 21, the Federal Reserve, the OCC, and the FDIC (collectively, the “Agencies”) jointly announced the adjusted thresholds for asset-size used to define “small” and “intermediate small” banks and savings associations under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). Effective January 1, 2018, a small bank or savings association will be defined as an institution that, as of December 31 of either of the past two calendar years, had assets of less than $1.252 billion. Additionally, an “intermediate small” bank or “intermediate small” savings association will be defined as an institution with at least $313 million and less than $1.252 billion in assets as of December 31 of either of the past two calendar years. The agencies published the annual adjustments in the Federal Register on December 27.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CRA OCC Federal Reserve FDIC Federal Register

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  • Federal Reserve Issues Final Rules Reflecting Credit and Interest Rate Increases

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On December 20, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) issued a final rule amending Regulation A (Extensions of Credit by Federal Reserve Banks) to reflect its December 13 approval of a one-quarter percent increase in the primary credit rate at each Federal Reserve Bank. Additionally, because the formula for the secondary credit rate references the primary rate, the secondary credit rate also increased by one-quarter percentage point. The rate changes took effect on December 14, and the final rule became effective on December 20.

    The same day, the Fed also issued a final rule amending Regulation D (Reserve Requirements of Depository Institutions) to reflect its December 13 approval of a one-quarter percent increase to the “rate of interest paid on balances maintained to satisfy reserve balance requirements (“IORR”) and the rate of interest paid on excess balances (“IOER”) maintained at Federal Reserve Banks by or on behalf of eligible institutions.” The rate changes took effect on December 14, and the final rule became effective on December 20.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve Regulation A Regulation D Federal Register

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  • Federal Reserve Issues Consent Order to Bank for BSA/AML Compliance Deficiencies

    Financial Crimes

    On December 14, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) entered into a consent order with an international bank regarding alleged deficiencies in the bank’s New York branch (Branch) Bank Secrecy Act and other anti-money laundering (BSA/AML) compliance and risk management. The consent order also relates to a 2009 written agreement among the bank, the Branch and the predecessor of the New York State Department of Financial Services, which cited BSA/AML compliance and risk management deficiencies identified by examiners in regards to the Branch’s correspondent banking services and U.S. dollar funds transfer clearing. In 2016, a Fed examination found that the bank and the Branch had not achieved full compliance with the requirements in the 2009 agreement.

    The 2017 order, among other things, requires the bank and Branch to submit a written governance plan to achieve compliance with BSA/AML requirements, and to engage an independent third party acceptable to the Fed to conduct and report on a comprehensive review of Branch’s BSA/AML compliance. Within 60 days of the report findings, the bank and Branch must submit an enhanced compliance program plan, an enhanced customer due diligence program plan, and a program to ensure accurate suspicious activity monitoring and reporting. 

    Financial Crimes Federal Reserve Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering

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