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Top Story Compliance Related

12/24/2020

OFAC targets more Belarusian regime actors

OFAC has designated and individual and four entities for their roles in the fraudulent August 9, 2020, presidential election in Belarus and the subsequent violent crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy protests. These designations, pursuant to Executive Order 13405, target individuals and entities who are responsible for, or have participated in, actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Belarus. OFAC targeted—

  • Henadz Arkadzievich Kazakevich
  • The Minsk Special Purpose Police Unit
  • The Main Internal Affairs Directorate of the Minsk City Executive Committee
  • KGB Alpha
  • The Central Commission of the Republic of Belarus on Elections and Holding Republican Referenda

For identification information, see BankersOnline's OFAC Update.

12/23/2020

Marketing Rule for Investment Advisors updated

The SEC has announced it has finalized reforms under the Investment Advisers Act to modernize rules that govern investment adviser advertisements and payments to solicitors. The amendments create a single rule that replaces the current advertising and cash solicitation rules. The final rule is designed to comprehensively and efficiently regulate investment advisers’ marketing communications.

The rule replaces the current advertising rule’s broadly drawn limitations with principles-based provisions designed to accommodate the continual evolution and interplay of technology and advice, and includes tailored requirements for certain types of advertisements. For example, the rule will require advisers to standardize certain parts of a performance presentation in order to help investors evaluate and compare investment opportunities, and will include tailored requirements for certain types of performance presentations. Advertisements that include third-party ratings will be required to include specific disclosures to prevent them from being misleading. The rule will also permit the use of testimonials and endorsements, which include traditional referral and solicitation activity, subject to certain conditions.

The changes will be effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

12/23/2020

Agencies revise statement on status of certain investment funds

The OCC, FRB, and FDIC yesterday issued a revised statement to supersede the "Statement Regarding Status of Certain Investment Funds and Their Portfolio Investments for Purposes of Regulation O and Reporting Requirements under Part 363 of FDIC Regulations" issued on December 27, 2019, and set to expire on January 1, 2021.

The revised interagency statement explains that the agencies will continue to exercise discretion not to take action against banks, or against certain asset managers that become principal shareholders of banks (principal shareholder fund complexes), with respect to certain extensions of credit by banks to portfolio companies of the principal shareholder fund complex (fund complex-controlled portfolio companies) that otherwise would violate Regulation O, 12 CFR 215, provided certain eligibility criteria are satisfied. The agencies are providing this temporary relief while the Board, in consultation with the other agencies, considers whether to amend Regulation O to address this issue. This temporary relief will apply until January 1, 2022, unless amended, extended, or superseded in writing before that time.

12/23/2020

Credit Suisse enforcement action

The Federal Reserve Board announced yesterday a written agreement has been executed among Credit Suisse Group AG, Zurich, Switzerland; Credit Suisse AG, Zurich, Switzerland; Credit Suisse Holdings (USA), Inc. ("CS USA"), New York, New York; Credit Suisse AG, New York Branch, New York, New York; the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; and the New York State Department of Financial Services. Following an examination of the Branch conducted by the Reserve Bank in 2019, the Reserve Bank identified deficiencies in CS USA’s compliance risk management program, including deficiencies with the BSA/AML compliance function administered by Credit Suisse Services, LLC, to the Branch and various entities within the U.S. Operations.

12/23/2020

Bureau fines Discover Bank for student loan servicing practices

The CFPB has announced it has reached a settlement with Discover Bank and its affiliates, The Student Loan Corporation and Discover Products, Inc., (collectively, "Discover") and issued a consent order for payment of at least $10 million in consumer redress and a $25 million civil money penalty. Discover Bank is an insured depository institution headquartered in Greenwood, Delaware, that provides and services private student loans. The Student Loan Corporation and Discover Products, Inc., also service student loans.

The Bureau had issued an Order in 2015 based on the CFPB's finding that Discover misstated the minimum amounts due on billing statements as well as tax information consumers needed to get federal income tax benefits. The Bureau also found that Discover engaged in illegal debt collection practices. The Bureau’s 2015 Order required Discover to refund $16 million to consumers, pay a penalty, and fix its unlawful practices servicing and collection practices. The Bureau found that Discover violated the 2015 Order’s requirements in several ways. Discover misrepresented the minimum loan payments consumers owed, the amount of interest consumers paid, and other material information, such as interest rates, payments, due dates, and the availability of rewards, among other things. Discover also did not provide all of the consumer redress the 2015 Order required.

For more information on the Bureau's enforcement action, see "Discover Bank and affiliates pay $25 million CMP," in BankersOnline's Penalty Pages.

12/23/2020

OFAC targets Syrian officials and Central Bank of Syria

A Treasury Department press release reports that OFAC has sanctioned a high-ranking official in the Syrian government; her husband, a member of the Syrian People’s Assembly; and their business entities. Further, OFAC added the Central Bank of Syria to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List), underscoring its status as a blocked person, and additionally identified the property of other previous blocked persons. In total, OFAC added two individuals, nine business entities, and the Central Bank of Syria to the SDN List, pursuant to Syria sanctions authorities.

The press release also announced that the State Department has designated six Syrian persons in accordance with Executive Order 13894, “Blocking Property and Suspending Entry of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Syria.”

For identification information on the individuals and entities that were designated, and for links to three new Syria-related FAQs, see the BankersOnline OFAC Update.

12/22/2020

Remittance transfer provider to pay $750,000 CMP

The CFPB has issued a Consent Order to Envios de Valores la Nacional Corp. ("La Nacional"), a remittance transfer provider incorporated in New York, headquartered in Colorado, and licensed 33 states and the District of Columbia. La Nacional provides remittance transfers from the U.S. to designated recipients primarily in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Nigeria, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The Bureau found that, since the Remittance Transfer Rule's effective date in 2013, La Nacional has engaged in thousands of violations of the Remittance Transfer Rule.

The Bureau found that La Nacional violated Regulation E by failing to provide refunds for cancellations and error claims when funds did not reach designated recipients on time, provide consumers reports of investigative findings, and treat international bill payment services as remittance transfers, among other infractions.

Under the Order, La Nacional will pay a $750,000 civil money penalty and correct its policies and practices. For additional details, see Remittance transfer provider settles with CFPB, in BankersOnline's penalty pages.

12/22/2020

Stimulus bill sent to president

Congress has approved and sent to the president for enactment the long-anticipated $900 billion coronavirus relief package in a record-breaking 5,500 plus-page bill. Key provisions affecting banks include:

  • An additional $284 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, included an option for prior PPP borrowers to obtain additional funds. Fifteen billion dollars were set aside for PPP loans by community financial institutions.
  • A hold-harmless provision for lenders from penalties related to borrower or applicant certifications for PPP loans
  • A simplified forgiveness process for PPP loans up to $150,000
  • A second round of economic impact payments (stimulus checks) for eligible recipients, that will not be subject to garnishment. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin predicts direct deposits of these payments could start next week.
  • An extension of federally-enhanced unemployment insurance payments
  • Extension until January 1, 2022, of the troubled debt restructuring provisions in the CARES Act
  • A delay of CECL implementation until January 1, 2022.

12/22/2020

OCC updates Comptroller's Handbook booklet

OCC Bulletin 2020-109, issued yesterday, introduced version 2.2 of the updated “Foreword” booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook. The booklet describes the overall organization and format of the Handbook and explains the OCC’s process for issuing new booklets, updating booklets, and fully revising booklets. The updated booklet—

  • clarifies the OCC’s methods for identifying updated content in Comptroller's Handbook booklets
  • revises content for consistency with the Examination Process series of Handbook booklets
  • includes information about the OCC’s adoption of interagency examination procedures and Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council handbooks and manuals

12/22/2020

Bureau Advisory Opinion on special-purpose credit programs

The CFPB has announced it has issued an advisory opinion to address regulatory uncertainty regarding Regulation B, which implements the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, as it applies to certain aspects of special purpose credit programs (SPCPs).

Under Regulation B, discrimination is prohibited on certain prohibited bases in any aspect of a credit transaction, but it is not discrimination for a for-profit organization to provide SPCPs designed to meet special social needs. The creditor offering the SPCP must determine the status of its own program in that regard. The regulation provides general guidance on compliance.

The CFPB has issued its advisory opinion with the hope that more creditors will offer SPCPs and increase access to credit to underserved groups. Specifically, the Bureau seeks to clarify the content that a for-profit organization must include in a written plan that establishes and administers a SPCP under Regulation B. The advisory opinion also clarifies the type of research and data that may be appropriate to inform a for-profit organization’s determination that a SPCP would benefit a certain class of people.

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