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Top Story Compliance Related

10/27/2021

Treasury sanctions Libyan national

The Treasury Department on Tuesday announced that OFAC, acting in coordination with an action by the United Nations Security Council, sanctioned Libyan national Osama Al Kuni Ibrahim (Al Kuni), who is responsible for serious human rights abuse against migrants in Libya. Al Kuni is designated pursuant to Executive Order 13726 for being involved in, or having been involved in, the targeting of civilians through the commission of acts of violence, abduction, forced displacement, or attacks on schools, hospitals, religious sites, or locations where civilians are seeking refuge, or through conduct that would constitute a serious abuse or violation of human rights or a violation of international humanitarian law.

As a result of yesterday’s action, all property and interests in property of the designated individual that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked.

Al Kuni was designated by the UN Security Council’s Libya Sanctions Committee. Pursuant to that designation, all UN Member States are obligated to impose an asset freeze and travel ban.

For more information on Al Kuni, see the BankersOnline October 26, 2021, OFAC Update.

10/27/2021

FATF lists jurisdictions with AML/CTF/CPF deficiencies

FinCEN has issued a press release to inform U.S. financial institutions that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental body that establishes international standards to combat money laundering, counter the financing of terrorism, and combat weapons of mass destruction proliferation financing (AML/CFT/CPF), has issued public statements updating its lists of jurisdictions with strategic AML/CFT/CPF deficiencies following its plenary meeting this month. U.S. financial institutions should consider the FATF’s stance toward these jurisdictions when reviewing their obligations and risk-based policies, procedures, and practices.

On October 21, 2021, the FATF added Jordan, Mali, and Turkey to its list of the Jurisdictions under Increased Monitoring and removed Botswana and Mauritius.

The FATF’s list of High-Risk Jurisdictions Subject to a Call for Action remains the same with Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea still subject to the FATF’s countermeasures.

FATF issued two statements:

  1. Jurisdictions under Increased Monitoring, which publicly identifies jurisdictions with strategic deficiencies in their AML/CFT/CPF regimes that have committed to, or are actively working with, the FATF to address those deficiencies in accordance with an agreed upon timeline
  2. High-Risk Jurisdictions Subject to a Call for Action, which publicly identifies jurisdictions with significant strategic deficiencies in their AML/CFT/CPF regimes and calls on all FATF members to apply enhanced due diligence, and, in the most serious cases, apply counter-measures to protect the international financial system from the money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing risks emanating from the identified countries.

10/26/2021

FTC restores practice of restricting anticompetitive mergers

The Federal Trade Commission has announced that it is restoring its long-established practice of routinely restricting future acquisitions for merging parties that pursue anticompetitive mergers.

The Prior Approval Statement issued yesterday puts industry on notice that the FTC’s merger enforcement orders will once again require acquisitive firms to obtain prior approval from the agency before closing any future transaction affecting each relevant market for which a violation was alleged, for a minimum of ten years.

In July 2021, the Commission rescinded a 1995 policy statement that for decades had fueled consolidation by preventing the agency from imposing these merger restrictions. The application of the Prior Approval Policy Statement will protect consumers and deter merging parties from pursuing anticompetitive deals. The consequences of attempting an anticompetitive deal will be more severe and the bar for consummating further anticompetitive acquisitions will be higher.

Parties settling an anticompetitive deal with a consent order will need the Commission’s permission to close any further acquisition in an affected market, and sometimes in broader markets depending on the circumstances, for at least ten years. The FTC will weigh a number of factors in determining the scope of a prior approval provision, including the nature of the transaction, the level of market concentration and degree to which the transaction increases market concentration, the degree of pre-merger market power, the parties’ history of acquisitiveness, and evidence of anticompetitive market dynamics. The Commission may also seek prior approvals even when parties abandon a transaction.

10/26/2021

First Treasury counselor for racial equity appointed

Treasury Secretary Yellen has announced the appointment of Janis Bowdler to serve as the Department’s first Counselor for Racial Equity. Ms. Bowdler will be charged with coordinating Treasury’s efforts to advance racial equity including engaging with diverse communities throughout the country and to identify and mitigate barriers to accessing benefits and opportunities with the Department. In announcing the appointment, Secretary Yellen said, “The American economy has historically not worked fairly for communities of color. The pandemic threw a spotlight on this inequity; people of color were often the first to lose their jobs and businesses. Treasury must play a central role in ensuring that as our economy recovers from the pandemic, it recovers in a way that addresses the inequalities that existed long before anyone was infected with COVID-19.”

10/26/2021

Arizona housing providers settle discrimination claims

HUD has announced that it has reached a Conciliation and Voluntary Compliance Agreement with MGM Investment Company, the owner of Roosevelt Plaza Apartments in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as its property manager, resolving allegations that they violated the Fair Housing Act and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when they failed to provide adequate language services for a resident with limited English proficiency (LEP). Roosevelt Plaza Apartments is a recipient of HUD funding.

10/26/2021

Chopra speaks out on 'digital redlining'

At the joint Justice Department, OCC, and CFPB news conference on the Trustmark National Bank enforcement action on Friday, CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said that the Bureau will be watching for "digital redlining, disguised through so-called neutral algorithms, that may reinforce the biases that have long existed." He continued, "Technology companies and financial institutions are amassing massive amounts of data and using it to make more and more decisions about our lives, including loan underwriting and advertising. While machines crunching numbers might seem capable of taking human bias out of the equation, that’s not what is happening....When consumers and regulators do not know how decisions are made by the algorithms, consumers are unable to participate in a fair and competitive market free from bias. Algorithms can help remove bias, but black box underwriting algorithms are not creating a more equal playing field and only exacerbate the biases fed into them."

Chopra added, "Given what we have seen in other contexts, the speed with which banks and lenders are turning lending and advertising decisions over to algorithms is concerning. Too many families were victimized by the robo-signing scandals from the last crisis, and we must not allow robo-discrimination to proliferate in a new crisis.

"We should never assume that algorithms will be free of bias. If we want to move toward a society where each of us has equal opportunities, we need to investigate whether discriminatory black box models are undermining that goal."

10/26/2021

Justice announces new initiative to combat redlining

The Department of Justice announced the launch on Friday of the department’s new Combatting Redlining Initiative. Redlining is an illegal practice in which lenders avoid providing services to individuals living in communities because of the race or national origin of the people who live in those communities. The new Initiative represents the department’s most aggressive and coordinated enforcement effort to address redlining, which is prohibited by the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

This Initiative, which will be led by the Civil Rights Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section in partnership with U.S. Attorney’s Offices, will build on the longstanding work by the division that seeks to make mortgage credit and homeownership accessible to all Americans on the same terms, regardless of race or national origin and regardless of the neighborhood where they live. The Initiative will:

  • Utilize U.S. Attorneys’ Offices as force multipliers to ensure that fair lending enforcement is informed by local expertise on housing markets and the credit needs of local communities of color.
  • Expand the department’s analyses of potential redlining to both depository and non-depository institutions. Non-depository lenders are not traditional banks and do not provide typical banking services, but engage in mortgage lending and now make the majority of mortgages in this country.
  • Strengthen DOJ's partnership with financial regulatory agencies to ensure the identification and referrals of fair lending violations to the Department of Justice.
  • Increase coordination with State Attorneys General on potential fair lending violations.

10/25/2021

Real estate lending guidelines amended

The FDIC has announced in FIL-71-2021 that the FDIC Board has adopted a final rule to amend the Interagency Guidelines for Real Estate Lending Policies to incorporate consideration of the capital framework established in the community bank leverage ratio (CBLR) rule into the method for calculating the ratio of loans in excess of the supervisory loan-to-value limits (LTV limits). The amendment provides a consistent approach for calculating the ratio of loans in excess of the supervisory LTV limits at all FDIC-supervised institutions without requiring the computation of total capital.

The final rule was adopted without any changes from the notice of proposed rulemaking published on June 25, 2021.

The final rule will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

10/25/2021

Regulators take action against Mississippi Bank

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), in cooperation with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), took action on Friday to put an end to alleged redlining by Trustmark National Bank. The CFPB and DOJ complaint alleges that Trustmark discriminated against Black and Hispanic neighborhoods by deliberately not marketing, offering, or originating home loans to consumers in majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in the Memphis, Tennessee, metropolitan area. The CFPB and DOJ also allege that Trustmark discouraged consumers residing in or seeking credit for properties located in these neighborhoods from applying for credit.

If entered by the court, the settlement would require Trustmark to put $3.85 million into a loan subsidy program for impacted neighborhoods, increase its lending presence there, and implement proper fair lending procedures. The order would also impose a $5 million civil money penalty against the bank, and will credit the $4 million penalty collected by the OCC toward the satisfaction of this amount.

See "Trustmark to pay $5 million for alleged redlining" in BankersOnline's Penalty Pages for additional information.

10/22/2021

OCC updates Payment Systems booklet

The OCC has issued a revised “Payment Systems” booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook. The booklet:

  • provides examiners with information regarding payment systems, types of payments, risks associated with payment systems, and associated risk management practices
  • discusses requirements of 12 CFR 7.1026 regarding payment systems memberships
  • includes expanded examination procedures for examiners to use when assessing payment products and services
  • includes supplemental procedures for deeper review of certain payment activities

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