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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

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  • Agencies issue joint proposal to streamline small institution reporting requirements

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On November 7, the OCC, FDIC, and Federal Reserve issued a proposal to streamline regulatory reporting for qualifying small institutions to implement Section 205 of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. Specifically, the joint proposal would permit depository institutions with less than $5 billion in assets—previously set at $1 billion—that do not engage in certain complex or international activities to file the FFIEC 051 Call Report, the most streamlined version of the Call Reports. Additionally, the proposal would reduce the existing reportable data items in the FFIEC 051 Call Report by approximately 37 percent for the first and third calendar quarters. The proposal also includes similar provisions for uninsured institutions with less than $5 billion in total consolidated assets that are supervised by the Federal Reserve and the OCC. Comments on the proposal must be received within 60 days of publication in the Federal Register.

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

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  • FFIEC issues joint statement on OFAC Cyber-Related Sanctions Program

    Financial Crimes

    On November 5, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) members issued a joint statement alerting financial institutions to the potential impact that the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) recent actions under its Cyber-Related Sanctions Program may have on financial institutions’ risk management programs. OFAC implemented the Cyber-Related Sanctions Program in response to Executive Order 13694 to address individuals and entities that threaten national security, foreign policy, and the economy of the U.S. by malicious cyber-enabled activities. FFIEC’s press release announcing the joint statement references OFAC’s June action against five Russian entities and three Russian individuals who, through “malign and destabilizing cyber activities,” provided material and technological support to Russia’s Federal Security Service (previously covered by InfoBytes here), noting that these entities may offer services to financial institutions operating in the U.S.

    The joint statement reminds financial institutions to ensure that their compliance and risk management processes address possible interactions with an OFAC sanctioned entity. The statement notes that continued use of products or services from a sanctioned entity may cause the financial institution to violate the OFAC sanctions. Additionally, use of software or technical services from a sanctioned entity may increase a financial institution’s cybersecurity risk. The statement encourages financial institutions to take appropriate corrective action, as well as to ensure their third-party service providers comply with OFAC’s requirements.

    The OCC also released Bulletin 2018-40, which corresponds with the FFIEC’s joint statement.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Sanctions FFIEC OCC Russia International Third-Party Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security

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  • OCC proposes changes to annual stress test reporting requirements

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 31, the OCC published in the Federal Register proposed changes to its “stress test” rules for covered financial institutions, as required by the Dodd-Frank Act. The proposal would, among other things, (i) revise the OCC reporting requirements to mirror the Federal Reserve Board’s proposed Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR) reporting form FR Y-14A for covered institutions with total consolidated assets of $100 billion or more; (ii) implement the revised asset threshold mandated by the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act; and (iii) remove the Retail Repurchase worksheet. Comments on the proposed changes must be received by December 31.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC CCAR Stress Test EGRRCPA Federal Register Dodd-Frank

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  • Fed proposes supervisory categories

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 31, the Federal Reserve announced a proposed rulemaking to more closely match certain regulations for large banking organization with their risk profile. The proposal would establish four risk-based categories for applying the regulatory capital rule, the liquidity coverage ratio rule, and the proposed net stable funding ratio rule for banks with $100 billion or more in assets. Specifically, the Federal Reserve proposes to establish the four categories using risk-based indicators, such as size, cross-jurisdictional activity, weighted short-term wholesale funding, nonbank assets, and off-balance sheet exposure. According to the proposal, the most significant changes will be for banks are in the two lowest risk categories:

    • Banks with $100 billion to $250 billion in total consolidated assets would generally fall into the lowest risk category and would (i) no longer be subject to the standardized liquidity requirements; (ii) no longer be required to conduct company-run stress tests, and (iii) be subject to supervised stress tests on a two-year cycle.
    • Banks with $250 billion or more in total consolidated assets, or material levels of other risk factors, that are not global systemically important banking institutions (GSIBs), would (i) have reduced liquidity requirements; and (ii) only be required to perform company run stress tests on a two-year cycle. These banks would still be subject to annual supervised stress tests.

    Banks in the highest two risk categories, including GSIBs, would not see any changes to capital or liquidity requirements. A chart of the proposed requirements for each risk category is available here.

    Comments on the proposal must be received by January 22, 2019.

    Additionally, the Federal Reserve released a joint proposal with the OCC and FDIC that would tailor requirements under the regulatory capital rule, the Liquidity Coverage Ratio and the proposed Net Stable Funding Ratio to be consistent with the prudential standard changes.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve FDIC OCC Bank Supervision GSIBs Liquidity Standards Stress Test

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  • CSBS files lawsuit over OCC’s fintech charter decision, arguing agency exceeds it authority under the National Bank Act

    Fintech

    On October 25, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) filed a lawsuit against the OCC arguing that the agency exceeded its authority under the National Bank Act (NBA) and other federal banking laws when it allowed non-bank institutions, including fintech companies, to apply for a Special Purpose National Bank Charter (SPNB). As previously covered by InfoBytes, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed CSBS’s challenge last April on ripeness grounds because the OCC had not yet issued a fintech charter to any firm. But CSBS renewed its challenge in light of the OCC’s July announcement welcoming non-depository fintech companies engaging in one or more core-banking functions to apply for a SPNB (previously covered by Buckley Sandler Special Alert here), and statements indicating the OCC is currently vetting several companies and expects to make charter decisions mid-2019.

    Among other things, the complaint argues that the SPNB program (i) exceeds the OCC’s statutory authority because the OCC may not “redefine the business of banking” to include non-depository institutions; (ii) is “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion” because it inadequately addresses, without explanation, “the myriad policy implications and concerns raised by the public” and the “cost-benefit” tradeoffs; (iii) did not include the proper notice and comment period for preemption interpretations under the NBA; and (iv) is an improper invasion of “state sovereign interests.”

    Fintech Courts OCC CSBS Fintech Charter National Bank Act

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  • OCC announces enforcement action against bank for previously identified BSA/AML compliance deficiencies

    Financial Crimes

    On October 23, the OCC issued a consent order assessing a civil money penalty (CMP) against a national bank for deficiencies in the bank’s Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) compliance program. The deficiencies allegedly resulted in violations of the BSA compliance program and suspicious activity reporting (SAR) rules that led to the issuance of a 2015 consent order, violations of the 2015 order, and additional violations of the SAR rule and wire transfer “travel rule.” According to the 2018 order, the bank allegedly, among other things, (i) failed to “timely achieve compliance” with the 2015 order; (ii) failed to file the required additional SARs; and (iii) initiated wire transfer transactions containing inadequate or incomplete information.

    Under the terms of the 2018 order, the bank agreed to pay a $100 million CMP. The order notes that the bank has undertaken corrective actions to remedy the identified BSA/AML-related deficiencies and enhance its BSA/AML compliance program.

    Financial Crimes OCC Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering SARs

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  • Federal banking agencies issue appraisal regulation FAQs

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 16, the FDIC, Federal Reserve Board, and the OCC issued FAQs to offer additional clarification concerning appraisal and evaluation functions set out in the 2010 Interagency Appraisal and Evaluation Guidelines, the 2016 Interagency Advisory on Use of Evaluations in Real Estate-Related Financial Transactions, and other related regulations, guidance, and advisories. (See FDIC FIL-62-2018 and OCC Bulletin 2018-39.) The FAQs—which do not introduce new policy or guidance—address a range of topics including (i) regulatory and statutory requirements applicable to appraisal and evaluation programs; (ii) financial institutions’ review of appraisal and evaluation programs; (iii) appraisal exemptions; (iv) development of appraisals and evaluations, including relevant policies and procedures; and (v) appraisal independence.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FDIC Federal Reserve OCC Appraisal

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  • OCC updates Comptroller’s Handbook booklets, addresses trade finance and services activities

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    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.”

    Bulletin 2018-38 also updates the “Agricultural Lending” and “Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Lending” booklets and rescinds previously issued corresponding bulletins.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC Comptroller's Handbook Examination Bank Supervision

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  • Federal Reserve seeks input on OCC’s ANPR on CRA reform

    Federal Issues

    On October 15, Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard spoke during a community investment meeting hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Denver Branch to discuss the role of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) in strengthening community investment. She noted that the OCC recently published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), and encouraged the public to submit comments by November 19. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the ANPR seeks input from stakeholders on ways to modernize the CRA regulatory framework. Brainard noted there was confusion about commenting on the ANPR because it was not published on an interagency basis. She clarified that although the Federal Reserve did not join in the publication of the ANPR, the Federal Reserve will read comment letters in anticipation of working with the OCC and FDIC on a joint proposal. Brainard emphasized that the “CRA is too important to the financial well-being of communities across this country for banks and community members to disengage in any part of this process.”

    Federal Issues Federal Reserve OCC CRA

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  • Utah Supreme Court reverses foreclosure ruling, states OCC interpretation of “located” is reasonable

    Courts

    On October 5, the Utah Supreme Court revisited a 2013 decision in which it held that federal law does not preempt Utah state law that limits the ability of national banks to foreclose on real property in the state. In a unanimous opinion, the court wrote that it was overruling its “clearly erroneous” decision in a case stemming from a borrower’s challenge to the validity of a nonjudicial foreclosure sale of her Utah home by a Texas-based national bank. According to the opinion, the borrower argued that the sale of her home at auction was invalid because Utah state law “does not permit a bank to act as a trustee on a trust need.” Fannie Mae, which won the auction, secured an eviction order and argued that under the National Bank Act (NBA), the bank had the authority to conduct the sale. The court, however, reversed the eviction order after deciding that the bank did not have the authority under Utah law to act as a trustee under a deed of trust.

    In overruling its 2013 decision, the court held that whether a national bank has the authority to act as a trustee to foreclose on property in Utah depends on the OCC’s regulation implementing the NBA, not on Utah state law. According to the OCC’s interpretation of Section 92a of the NBA, a bank is located in the state where it “accepts the fiduciary appointment, executes the documents that create the fiduciary relationship, and makes discretionary decisions regarding the investment or distribution of fiduciary assets.” Previously, the court had found this interpretation to be unreasonable and not entitled to Chevron deference. However, when reconsidering the issue, the court determined that the OCC had the authority to implement the NBA and that the agency’s interpretation of the word “located” was reasonable. “Whatever located means, Congress has instructed that a state has to permit a national bank to act as a fiduciary if institutions that compete with the national bank in the state where it is located can act as a fiduciary,” the court wrote. “This expresses a federal intent to clomp into an area of traditional state concern.” The question, however, remained whether the bank performed its actions in a fiduciary capacity in Texas—a point on which the two parties to the litigation disagreed. “Because the district court has not had the opportunity to address this issue and because of the potential need for factual findings, we remand for the district court to consider this argument,” the opinion stated.

    Courts State Issues OCC National Bank Act Foreclosure

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