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Banker's Toolbox, Inc., leaders in compliance solutions for financial institutions, announced the acquisition of Georgia-based MainStreet Technologies (MST). MST is an industry leader in the loan risk management space. This acquisition adds to a strong and growing portfolio of compliance-related solutions and will continue to enhance the value Banker's Toolbox brings to both their customers and the industry. (Read full press release here.)

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OCC statement on end of 'Choke Point' suit

Yesterday, the OCC released a statement on the dismissal of the long-running lawsuit alleging regulatory pressure on banks to close payday lender bank accounts. In its statement, the OCC (one of the defendants in the action) said that the OCC did not participate in "Operation Choke Point" or any purported conspiracy to force banks to end the bank accounts of the plaintiffs or other payday lenders, and that the agency had not entered into the settlement agreement recently announced by the FDIC.


Fed report on economic well-being of U.S. households

The Federal Reserve Board has issued its latest Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households, which indicates that most measures of economic well-being and financial resilience in 2018 were similar to, or slightly better than, those in 2017. Overall, the financial experiences reported by the 11,000 adults surveyed in 2018 were largely positive, and many families have experienced substantial gains since the survey began in 2013, in line with the nation's ongoing economic expansion. When asked about their overall economic well-being, 75 percent of U.S. adults said they were "doing okay" or "living comfortably"—up 12 percentage points from 2013.

The survey also asked participants how they would pay for a hypothetical unexpected expense of $400. Sixty-one percent said they would pay the expense with cash, savings, or a credit card paid off at the next statement; 27 percent would borrow or sell something; and 12 percent would not be able to cover it. In 2013, only half of adults said they would pay with cash or its equivalent. A new topic in this year's report—aimed at understanding the experiences of bank customers—was the ability of adults to access funds in their bank accounts. Thirteen percent of those with a bank account had at least one problem accessing funds in their account in the prior year. Problems with a bank website or mobile app (7 percent) and delays in funds availability (6 percent) were the most common problems cited. Those with volatile income and low savings were more likely to experience these problems.


Argentina-based narcotics trafficker sanctioned by OFAC

OFAC has identified the Argentina-based Goldpharma Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering Organization as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. OFAC also designated eight Argentine nationals for their role in the Goldpharma DTO/MLO, as well as nine entities located in Argentina, Colombia, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. A Kingpin Act chart on the designated individuals was also published.

For identification information on the designated individuals and entities, see BankersOnline's OFAC Update, and note that there are several U.S. (Delaware, Florida, and Texas) addresses involved.


Landlord pays $37,000 to settle harassment claims

HUD has approved an agreement between a Minneapolis property owner and a female tenant who alleged the landlord solicited sex from her in exchange for a reduction in her rent. The case came to HUD’s attention when a woman filed a complaint with HUD alleging that her landlord, David Sheets, sexually harassed her while she was living in one of his apartments. Specifically, the woman alleged that on numerous occasions during her tenancy, the landlord requested sex from her in exchange for a reduction in her rent. Under the terms of the agreement, the landlord, who denied the allegations, will pay $30,000 to the woman and $7,000 to her attorney. The agreement also requires that the landlord contract with a licensed, independent third-party real estate management company to manage all of his residential properties for the next five years.


Proposed revisions to capital and liquidity requirements

The OCC, Federal Reserve, and FDIC have jointly published a proposal that would determine the application of regulatory capital requirements to certain U.S. intermediate holding companies of foreign banking organizations and their depository institution subsidiaries and the application of standardized liquidity requirements with respect to certain U.S. operations of large foreign banking organizations and certain of their depository institution subsidiaries, each according to risk-based categories. For liquidity, the proposal would require a foreign banking organization that meets certain criteria to comply with liquidity coverage ratio and net stable funding ratio requirements with respect to any U.S. intermediate holding company and certain depository institution subsidiaries. The Fed is also requesting comment on (but not proposing) whether it should impose standardized liquidity requirements on such foreign banking organizations with respect to their U.S. branch and agency networks, as well as possible approaches for doing so.

Comments are due in 28 days (by June 21, 2019).


Covered Savings Association rule added

The OCC has issued a final rule to implement a new section of the Home Owners' Loan Act. The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act amended HOLA to add a new section that allows a Federal savings association with total consolidated assets equal to or less than $20 billion, as reported by the association to the Comptroller as of December 31, 2017, to elect to operate as a covered savings association. A covered savings association has the same rights and privileges as a national bank and is subject to the same duties, restrictions, penalties, liabilities, conditions, and limitations as a national bank. A covered savings association retains its Federal savings association charter and existing governance framework.

The new rule, published today at 84 FR 23991 as new part 101 of title 12 of the CFR, is effective July 1, 2019.


FDIC resolves 'Operation Choke Point' suit

The FDIC has resolved a lawsuit with Advance America, Cash Advance Centers, Inc., Check Into Cash, Inc., and Northstate Check Exchange (Advance America et al. v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation et al). The lawsuit had alleged terminations of payday lender bank accounts under what was described as "Operation Choke Point." In exchange for the plaintiffs' agreement to dismiss the lawsuit, the FDIC issued: (1) a statement summarizing its longstanding policies and guidance regarding the circumstances in which the FDIC recommends that a financial institution terminate a customer's deposit account and reiterating preexisting public guidance to financial institutions about providing banking services and carrying out Bank Secrecy Act obligations; and (2) a cover letter transmitting the statement to the plaintiffs that reiterates prior correspondence from the FDIC Chairman, summarizes applicable FDIC policy, and notes that the FDIC is conducting additional training of its workforce.


Puerto Rico housing authority to pay $885K for discrimination

An agreement has been negotiated by HUD between the Puerto Rico Public Housing Authority (PRPHA) and residents of the housing authority with disabilities. The agreement resolves allegations that the El Trebol public housing development was inaccessible to persons with disabilities for more than a year because of inoperable elevators. Under the terms of the agreement, PRPHA will spend $884,640 to repair existing inoperable elevators and install six new elevators, and pay $23,760 to the four residents who filed the initial complaint. In addition, $32,400 will be paid to 16 other residents with disabilities who were harmed by the prolonged elevator outages.


Discrimination charges filed against Alabama landlords

HUD reported yesterday that it is charging the property owner and manager of Hunter's Pointe Apartments in Mobile, Alabama, with violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to accommodate the special needs of a resident with disabilities.


OCC recommends central beneficial ownership data

Senior Deputy Comptroller for Bank Supervision Policy Grovetta N. Gardineer yesterday discussed efforts to protect the financial system from being misused for illegal purposes during a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Gardineer specifically addressed the threats posed to our financial system by the use of shell companies and methods to better identify the true beneficial owners of assets.


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