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  • California Department of Business Reaches $1.1 Million Settlement With South Carolina-Based Mortgage Lender and Servicer

    Lending

    The California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) announced on December 11 that it had reached a $1.1 million settlement with a South Carolina-based mortgage lender and servicer to resolve allegations that the company (1) violated California’s statutory restriction on per diem interest and (2) serviced loans without a California license. This settlement marks the second time in five years that examiners discovered alleged per diem overcharges in the company’s loans. Under California law, lenders are prohibited from charging interest on mortgage loans prior to the last business day that immediately precedes the day the loan proceeds are disbursed. In addition, it is a violation of state law to service residential mortgage loans without obtaining proper licensure.

    According to the terms of the settlement—which resolves violations identified during a 2016 supervisory examination—the company must: (i) refrain from loan servicing activities until licensed by the state; (ii) pay $1 million in penalties to DBO for past violations; (iii) pay $125 for each additional violation identified by an independent audit of its loan originations; and (iv) issue per diem interest refunds totaling more than $141,000 to at least 1,347 borrowers. The company has also agreed to revise its policies and procedures to prevent future violations of California law.

    Lending Settlement Mortgages DBO Mortgage Servicing Licensing

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  • DOJ Announces Settlement With Mortgage Lender to Resolve Alleged False Claims Act Violations

    Lending

    The DOJ announced a $11.6 million settlement on December 8 with a Louisiana-based direct endorsement mortgage lender and certain affiliates to resolve allegations that the lender violated the False Claims Act by falsely certifying compliance with federal requirements in order to obtain insurance on mortgage loans from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). According to the DOJ’s press release, between January 2005 and December 2014, the lender (i) certified loans that failed to meet HUD’s underwriting and origination requirements for FHA insurance; (ii) paid incentives to underwriters in violation of the “underwriter commission prohibition,” and continued to make incentive payments even after HUD notified the lender of commission prohibition noncompliance in 2010; and (iii) failed to, in a timely manner, “self-report material violations of HUD requirements” or perform quality reviews. The settlement also fully resolves a False Claims Act qui tam lawsuit that had been pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

    Lending DOJ False Claims Act / FIRREA FHA Settlement HUD Courts

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  • CFPB Ombudsman’s Office Publishes Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Report

    Consumer Finance

    The CFPB’s Ombudsman’s Office published its annual report to the Director for fiscal year 2017, entitled Advocating for Fair Process in Consumer Financial Protection. The December 6 report details Ombudsman initiatives undertaken in 2017 and highlights the Bureau’s selection as one of four case studies in a December 2016 study by the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) on the use of ombudsmen in federal agencies. Specifically, the Bureau’s report focuses on systemic reviews concerning the following: (i) the accessibility of CFPB print materials for different groups of people; (ii) the telephone entry point for non-consumers; (iii) the documenting and standardizing of ex parte communications regarding proposed rules; and (iv) the implementing of improvements to the way consumers select categories when identifying issues with companies in the consumer complaint database.

    The Ombudsman’s report also outlines strategic goals for the next two years, including, among other things, (i) addressing CFPB process issues facing consumers, financial entities, and trade groups; (ii) optimizing resources for effective assistance; and (iii) expanding educational efforts and engagement with stakeholders, in addition to implementing best practices to convey feedback. 

    Consumer Finance CFPB Consumer Complaints

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  • Federal Reserve Requests Comments on Proposals Seeking Transparency Increases in Stress Testing Programs

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    The Federal Reserve Board (Fed) issued a request for comments on three proposals designed to increase stress testing transparency while also testing the resiliency of large, complex banks. Earlier in June, Fed Chair Janet Yellen underscored the Fed’s understanding of the need to provide transparency in its Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR) process and stress test scenarios. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.) The first December 7 proposal, “Enhanced Disclosure of the Models Used in the Federal Reserve’s Supervisory Stress Test,” announces the Fed’s plans to publically release, for the first time, information concerning the models and methodologies used during supervisory stress tests, including those applied in the CCAR, including:

    • “enhanced descriptions of supervisory models, including key variables;”
    • “modeled loss rates on loans grouped by important risk characteristics and summary statistics associated with the loans in each group;” and,
    • “portfolios of hypothetical loans and the estimated loss rates associated with the loans in each portfolio.”

    The information will offer banks expanded details as to how the Fed’s models treat different types of loans under stress, along with insight into the determination of annual stress test results.

    The second request for comments concerns the “Stress Testing Policy Statement,” which elaborates on prior disclosures and outlines details on the principles and policies that govern the Fed’s development, implementation, and validation of its stress testing models.

    Finally, the Fed issued a proposed policy statement to request comments on introduced amendments to the design of its annual hypothetical economic scenarios framework. The “Amendments to Policy Statement on the Scenario Design Framework for Stress Testing” is intended to enhance transparency and provide clarification on hypothetical economic scenarios, including the direction of housing prices, as well as the Fed’s commitment to exploring additional variables to test for funding risks.

    All comments must be received by January 22, 2018.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues Federal Reserve Stress Test CCAR

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  • FDIC’s OIG Issues Evaluation of Agency’s Implementation of ATR/QM and Loan Originator Rules

    Federal Issues

    On December 6, the FDIC’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released an evaluation report to examine how the agency implements certain consumer protection rules concerning consumers’ ability to repay mortgage loans and limits for loan originator compensation. The OIG report, FDIC’s Implementation of Consumer Protection Rules Regarding Ability to Repay Mortgages and Compensation for Loan Originators (EVAL-18-001), focused on the FDIC’s Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection (DCP), which is responsible for implementing the Ability to Repay/Qualified Mortgage (ATR/QM) and Loan Originator rules and tracking violations of the rules. The report found that the DCP “incorporated these rules into its examination program, trained its examiners, and communicated regulatory changes to FDIC-supervised institutions.” However, based on a sample of 12 examinations, the OIG also determined that examination workpapers generally needed improvement, finding (i) inconsistent documentation by examiners on decisions to exclude compliance testing for the ATR/QM and Loan Originator rules, and (ii) in certain circumstances, incomplete, incorrect, or improperly stored examiners’ workpapers, “which would preclude someone independent of the examination team from fully understanding examination findings and conclusions, based on the workpapers alone.”

    OIG further noted that, because DCP’s examination practices did not include tracking the number of institutions subject to the rules or recording how frequently examiners tested for compliance, any identified variances among the FDIC’s six regional offices could not be assessed for significance due to lack of context.

    As a result of these findings, the OIG made several recommendations for the DCP to strengthen its compliance examination process, including:

    • “research potential reasons for the regional variances in the number of rule violations by banks in the FDIC’s six regional offices”;
    • “track the aggregate number of FDIC-supervised institutions in each region that are subject to the rules”;
    • “track how often examiners test for compliance with the rules”; and
    • ‘‘take steps to improve workpaper documentation and retention.”

    The DCP agreed to implement these recommendations June 30, 2018.

    Federal Issues OIG FDIC Ability To Repay Qualified Mortgage Consumer Finance Loan Origination Mortgages Examination

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  • OCC Allows Closure of Certain Financial Institutions Affected by Wildfires in California

    Federal Issues

    The OCC issued a proclamation on December 7 allowing national banks and federal savings associations affected by wildfires in California to close. The OCC encouraged the affected offices to make every effort to reopen as quickly as possible and to consult OCC Bulletin 2012-28 for guidance on certain actions the institutions should consider implementing for customers in affected disaster areas, previously covered by InfoBytes here

    Federal Issues OCC Disaster Relief Consumer Finance

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  • FHA Will Stop Insuring Mortgages With Pace Loans

    Federal Issues

    In ML 2017-18, FHA announced that it will no longer insure mortgages encumbered by Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) obligations due to their superior lien status. The December 7 letter is a reversal of the policies outlined in ML 2016-11, which allowed for, in certain circumstances, the continued payment obligation to PACE on foreclosed FHA-insured properties. The new guidance is effective 30 days after issuance of the letter. 

    Federal Issues FHA Mortgages PACE Programs

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  • Ginnie Mae Imposes Tougher Pooling Standards on Certain Refinance Loans

    Federal Issues

    Last week, Ginnie Mae announced an All Participants Memorandum, APM 17-06, regarding pooling eligibility for refinance loans. According to Ginnie Mae, the purpose of the December 7 Memorandum is to expand the pooling restrictions announced last year in APM 16-05 to address frequent loan churning and quick prepayments. Specifically, for pool issuances on or after April 1, 2018, all streamline and cash-out refinance loans are eligible for Ginnie Mae I Single Issuer Pools and Ginnie Mae II Multiple Issuer Pools only if (i) six consecutive borrower monthly payments are made; and (ii) the first payment due date of the refinance loan must be at least 210 days after the first payment due date on the original loan. Refinance Loans that are fully underwritten and meet certain criteria will not be subject to the new pooling restrictions.

    APM 16-05 remains effective until APM 17-06 becomes effective on April 1, 2018. Ginnie Mae will continue active monitoring for unusually rapid prepayment rates and will institute sanctions for noncompliance. Ginnie Mae also plans to publish revised pooling standards for premium rate loans in early 2018.

    Federal Issues Refinance Mortgages Ginnie Mae

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  • Continuing Resolution Extends National Flood Insurance Program Deadline to December 22

    Federal Issues

    As previously reported in InfoBytes, the House voted 237-189 on November 14 to pass legislation reforming and reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for five years before it expired at the beginning of December. A continuing resolution (H.J. Res. 123), passed by both the Senate and House and signed into law by President Trump on December 8, amended the expiration date of Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations to December 22, and extended the NFIP another two weeks. The Senate Banking Committee is still waiting to act on a flood insurance bill. 

    Federal Issues OCC Bank Regulatory National Flood Insurance Program Trump

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  • OFAC Penalizes Dental Supply Company for Violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations

    Financial Crimes

    The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) announced that it entered into a $1.2 million settlement with a U.S. dental supply company for alleged violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR). According to the December 6 announcement, between November 2009 and July 2012, two of the company’s subsidiaries exported 37 shipments of dental supplies to distributors in other countries with “knowledge or reason to know that the goods were ultimately destined for Iran.” OFAC determined that the alleged violations were non-egregious.

    In determining the settlement amount, OFAC considered multiple factors, including that (i) the subsidiaries acted willfully in violation of the ITSR because employees concealed their knowledge that the goods were destined for Iran; (ii) subsidiary supervisory personnel actively concealed their awareness of the apparent violations from their U.S. parent company; and (iii) the U.S. company is “commercially sophisticated” with knowledge of OFAC’s regulations. OFAC also considered numerous mitigating factors, including (i) the fact that the U.S. company has not received a penalty from OFAC in the previous five years; (ii) the harm to the ITSR program was limited; and (iii) the U.S. company cooperated with the investigation and took remedial steps. 

    Financial Crimes OFAC Sanctions Settlement Department of Treasury

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