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Top Story Compliance Related

09/10/2020

FTC settles with student loan debt scheme operators

The Federal Trade Commission has announced that the operators of a student loan debt relief scheme will pay at least $835,000 to settle Commission allegations that they charged illegal upfront fees and made false promises to consumers struggling with student loan debt. The settlement resolves FTC litigation against Carey G. Howe, Anna C. Howe, Shunmin Hsu, Ruddy Palacios, and Oliver Pomazi, five individuals who were named as defendants in the agency’s complaint against Arete Financial Group and several related companies. In the complaint filed in 2019, the FTC alleged that Arete and the other defendants pretended to be affiliated with the Department of Education and deceptively promised loan forgiveness, consolidation, and repayment programs to reduce or eliminate monthly payments and principal balances.

The proposed stipulated order bans the settling defendants from providing student loan debt relief services, prohibits them from violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and includes a monetary judgment of $43.3 million, which is partially suspended due to an inability to pay. The defendants will be required to surrender at least $835,000 and additional assets, which will be used for consumer redress. The order also requires the defendants’ full cooperation in the ongoing case and any related investigation.

09/10/2020

Comptroller’s Licensing Manual booklet updated

OCC Bulletin 2020-80, issued yesterday, announced an update of the "Federal Branches and Agencies" booklet of the Comptroller’s Licensing Manual, which revises and replaces the booklet of the same title issued in October 2019. The revised booklet makes clarifications and updates to the OCC's policies and processes regarding the establishment, operations, and other corporate activities of federally licensed offices of foreign banks, which include federal branches, limited federal branches, and federal agencies. The revised booklet:

  • clarifies various notice and application filing requirements and processes.
  • updates decision factors and criteria.
  • removes all internal licensing procedures.
  • makes other minor modifications throughout.

This booklet does not apply to licensing activities of national banks or federal savings associations.

09/10/2020

Deutsche Bank settles OFAC violations

OFAC has announced two settlements totaling $583,100 with Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas regarding apparent violations of the Ukraine-Related Sanctions Regulations. OFAC determined that neither case was voluntarily self-disclosed to OFAC, but the apparent violations constitute non-egregious cases, and the bank cooperated during the investigation and made immediate corrections to its procedures to prevent future violations of the types cited. .The maximum civil penalty amount for the apparent violations was over $75.7 million. For additional information, see "Deutsche Bank Trust Company settles with OFAC" in BankersOnline's Penalty pages.

09/10/2020

CFPB Summer 2020 Supervisory Highlights

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has published [85 FR 55828] in the Federal Register Issue 22 (Summer 2020) of its Supervisory Highlights report. This edition of the report discusses exam findings in the areas of consumer reporting, debt collection, deposits, fair lending, mortgage servicing and payday lending.

09/09/2020

NY AG and CFPB file suit against debt collection network

The New York Attorney General and the CFPB have filed suit against a network of five different companies based outside of Buffalo, New York, two of their owners, and two of their managers, for their participation in a debt-collection operation using illegal methods to collect debts.

The company defendants are: JPL Recovery Solutions, LLC; Regency One Capital LLC; ROC Asset Solutions LLC, which does business as API Recovery Solutions; Check Security Associates LLC, which does business as Warner Location Services and Orchard Payment Processing Systems; and Keystone Recovery Group. The individual defendants are Christopher Di Re and Scott Croce, who have held ownership interests in some or all of the defendant companies; and Brian Koziel and Marc Gracie, who are members of Keystone Recovery Group, and have acted as managers of some or all of the defendant companies.

The complaint alleges that from at least 2015 through the present, the defendants have participated in a debt-collection operation that has used deceptive, harassing, and improper methods to induce consumers to make payments to them in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA). The New York Attorney General alleges violations of New York law based on the same conduct.

The complaint seeks consumer redress, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, civil money penalties, and injunctive relief against the defendants.

09/09/2020

CFPB sues debt collectors and buyers

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has announced the filing of a lawsuit against Encore Capital Group, Inc. and its subsidiaries, Midland Funding, LLC; Midland Credit Management, Inc.; and Asset Acceptance Capital Corp. The companies, which are headquartered in San Diego, California, together comprise the largest debt collector and debt buyer in the United States, with annual revenue exceeding $1 billion and annual net income exceeding $75 million. Encore and its subsidiaries are currently subject to a 2015 consent order with the Bureau based on the Bureau’s previous findings that they violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA), Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), and Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The Bureau's complaint alleges that since September 2015, Encore and its subsidiaries violated the consent order by suing consumers without possessing required documentation, using law firms and an internal legal department to engage in collection efforts without providing required disclosures, and failing to provide consumers with required loan documentation after consumers requested it. The complaint also alleges that the companies violated the consent order, the CFPA, and the FDCPA by suing consumers to collect debts even though the statutes of limitations had run on those debts and violated the consent order by attempting to collect on debts for which the statutes of limitations had run without providing required disclosures. The CFPB further alleges that the companies violated the CFPA by failing to disclose possible international-transaction fees to consumers, thereby effectively denying consumers an opportunity to make informed choices of their preferred payment methods. The Bureau also alleges that each violation of the consent order constitutes a violation of the CFPA.

09/09/2020

Fed CRA evaluation ratings

The Federal Reserve Board made five CRA evaluation ratings public during August. Four of the evaluations were rated "satisfactory." One evaluation received an "outstanding" rating, earned by VCC Bank, Richmond, Virginia.

09/09/2020

Hizballah supporters in Lebanon targeted

Treasury has reported that OFAC has sanctioned former Lebanese government ministers Yusuf Finyanus and Ali Hassan Khalil, who provided material support to Hizballah and engaged in corruption. The designations were made under the authority of Executive Order 13224, as amended.

OFAC also updated an SDN listing. For identity information on the two new designees and the updated listing, see BankersOnline's OFAC Update.

09/09/2020

FDIC releases CRA evaluation ratings

The FDIC has issued a list of state nonmember banks recently evaluated for compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act. The list covers evaluation ratings that the FDIC assigned to institutions in June 2020. Of the 76 banks listed, 70 receive a "satisfactory" rating, and three were rated "needs to improve." Our congratulations to three banks who received "outstanding" ratings:

09/08/2020

FTC settlement shutters auto dealer group

The Federal Trade Commission has announced a group of auto dealerships in Arizona and New Mexico must cease business operations as part of a court -approved settlement resolving FTC charges that the dealerships deceived consumers and falsified information on vehicle financing applications. In a case filed in 2018, the FTC alleged that Tate’s Auto Center of Winslow, Inc.; Tate’s Automotive, Inc.; Tate Ford-Lincoln-Mercury, Inc. (doing business as Tate’s Auto Center); Tate’s Auto Center of Gallup, Inc.; and Richard Berry, an officer of the dealerships, falsified consumers’ income and down payment information on vehicle financing applications and misrepresented important financial terms in vehicle advertisements. The case continues against Berry and relief defendant Linda Tate.

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