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Top Story Compliance Related

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

10/22/2021

OCC September enforcement actions released

The OCC has released a list of new enforcement actions taken in the month of September. Included were:

  • The previously announced cease-and-desist order against MUFG Union Bank, National Association, of San Francisco
  • A civil money penalty of $2.5 million was assessed against Washington Federal Bank, National Association, Seattle, for BSA/AML compliance failures
  • A consent order of prohibition and for a $140,000 civil money penalty was issued to Jared P. Schultz, former senior vice president, First National Bank in Fairfield, Fairfield, Iowa, upon a finding that he failed to comply with the bank's loan policies; authorized loans from which he personally benefited, in violation of Regulation O; and otherwise engaged in violations of policy and law, reckless unsafe or unsound practices, and breaches of his fiduciary duty to the bank
  • A consent order for a $16,000 civil money penalty and to cease-and-desist was issued to Patrick Hurley, former president, CEO and director of First National Bank in Fairfield, Fairfield, Iowa, upon a finding that he failed to adequately supervise Jared P. Schultz; failed to adequately review the banks problem loan and exception reports to detect unsafe or unsound lending activities that Schultz engaged in; and failed to ensure the bank's internal controls were sufficient

    10/22/2021

    New investment restrictions on Fed policymakers and staff

    The Federal Reserve Board has announced a broad set of new rules that will prohibit the purchase of individual securities, restrict active trading, and increase the timeliness of reporting and public disclosure by Federal Reserve policymakers and senior staff.

    As a result of the new policies, senior Federal Reserve officials will be limited to purchasing diversified investment vehicles, like mutual funds. The new restrictions will apply to both Reserve Bank and Board policymakers and senior staff and prohibit them from purchasing individual stocks, holding investments in individual bonds, holding investments in agency securities (directly or indirectly), or entering into derivatives. The new rules are expansive and are designed to place the Federal Reserve's investment and trading rules at the forefront among major federal agencies.

    To help guard against even the appearance of any conflict of interest in the timing of investment decisions, policymakers and senior staff generally will be required to provide 45 days' advance notice for purchases and sales of securities, obtain prior approval for purchases and sales of securities, and hold investments for at least one year. Further, no purchases or sales will be allowed during periods of heightened financial market stress.

    Reserve Bank presidents will now be required to publicly disclose financial transactions within 30 days, as Fed Board members and senior staff currently do.

    The Board and the Reserve Banks will incorporate these new restrictions into the appropriate Federal Reserve rules and policies over the coming months.

    10/21/2021

    Purchasers of phony pain treatments to get refunds

    The Federal Trade Commission has announced it is sending refund payments totaling more than $1.1 million to 84,847 consumers who bought three supplements deceptively marketed as treatments for pain and other health conditions related to aging. According to the FTC's complaint, the marketers of Neurocet, Regenify, and Resetigen-D deceptively promoted their products using false or unsubstantiated claims that the supplements could stop pain and treat age-related ailments. The pitches were made primarily through direct mail campaigns.

    The final order settling the FTC’s complaint bars the defendants—five related companies called Mile High Madison Group, Inc., Nordic Clinical, Inc., Encore Plus Solutions, Inc., Le Groupe Mile High Madison, Inc., and Clinique Nordique, Inc. and their principals, Vittorio DiCriscio and Vito Proietti—from making any claims about the health benefits of their products unless they are true and supported by scientific evidence. It also requires them to pay for the consumer refunds.

    10/21/2021

    NCUA issues ECIP action guidance

    The NCUA yesterday announced it has sent a letter to credit unions announcing that eligible low-income credit unions (LICUs) may accept 30-year subordinated debt investments from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Emergency Capital Investment Program (ECIP). Additionally, a LICU may treat this ECIP funding as secondary capital in accordance with the NCUA’s regulations, provided that any LICU receiving secondary capital treatment has an NCUA-approved secondary capital plan by December 31, 2021.

    10/20/2021

    Credit Suisse pays $474M+ for misleading customers

    The Securities and Exchange Commission has announced Credit Suisse Group AG has agreed to pay nearly $475 million to U.S. and UK authorities, including nearly $100 million to the SEC, for fraudulently misleading investors and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in a scheme involving two bond offerings and a syndicated loan that raised funds on behalf of state-owned entities in Mozambique.

    According to the SEC's order, these transactions that raised over $1 billion were used to perpetrate a hidden debt scheme, pay kickbacks to now-indicted former Credit Suisse investment bankers along with their intermediaries, and bribe corrupt Mozambique government officials. The SEC's order finds that the offering materials created and distributed to investors by Credit Suisse hid the underlying corruption and falsely disclosed that the proceeds would help develop Mozambique's tuna fishing industry. Credit Suisse failed to disclose the full extent and nature of Mozambique's indebtedness and the risk of default arising from these transactions.

    VTB Capital plc, a London-based subsidiary of Russian bank VTB, separately agreed to pay more than $6 million to settle SEC charges related to its role in misleading investors in a second 2016 bond offering. According to the SEC's order in this case, the second offering as structured by VTB Capital and Credit Suisse allowed investors to exchange their notes in an earlier bond offering for new sovereign bonds issued directly by the government of Mozambique. But the SEC found that the offering materials distributed and marketed by Credit Suisse and VTB Capital failed to disclose the true nature of Mozambique's debt and the high risk of default on the bonds. The offering materials further failed to disclose Credit Suisse's discovery that significant funds from the earlier offering had been diverted away from the intended use of proceeds that was disclosed to investors. Mozambique later defaulted on the financings after the full extent of "secret debt" was revealed.

    10/20/2021

    FinCEN exceptive relief for casinos with online gambling

    FinCEN announced on Tuesday it has granted limited exceptive relief in Ruling FIN-2021-R001 to casinos from certain customer identity verification requirements in the context of online gaming. Specifically, under the terms of this relief, a casino may utilize suitable non-documentary methods to verify the identity of online customers. The suitability or non-suitability of any particular method should be evaluated based on risk. This exceptive relief is effective as of October 19, 2021.

    10/20/2021

    CFPB acts against prison financial services company

    The CFPB on Tuesday announced it took action against the prison financial services company JPay for violating the Consumer Financial Protection Act by charging consumers fees to access their own money on prepaid debit cards that consumers were forced to use.

    JPay also violated the Electronic Fund Transfer Act when it required consumers to sign up for a JPay debit card as a condition of receiving government benefits – in particular, “gate money,” which is money provided under state law to help people meet their essential needs as they are released from incarceration. The consent order severely limits the fees JPay can charge on release cards going forward, allowing only inactivity fees after 90 days without card activity. The order also requires the company to pay $4 million for consumer redress and a $2 million civil money penalty.

    JPay, a Delaware company, headquartered in Miramar, Fla., is a dominant provider of financial services to prisons and jails nationwide. JPay is owned by the private equity firm Platinum Equity Partners. Since 2011, JPay has provided approximately 1.2 million debit release cards to consumers. JPay calls itself “a highly trusted name in corrections,” but the company leveraged its relationships with state and local departments of correction to impose fees on consumers exiting the prison or jail system. JPay’s fee-bearing debit release card replaced cash or check options previously offered by state departments of correction. The Bureau's Consent Order states that JPay—

    • Abused its market dominance
    • Illegally required consumers in certain states to receive protected government benefits on debit release cards
    • Charged fees without authorization
    • Misrepresented fees to consumers

    The Bureau's Consent Order requires JPay to:

    • Stop charging most fees. JPay cannot charge any fees on release cards, except an inactivity fee after 90 days of inactivity
    • Refund harmed consumers by paying $4 million to the Bureau for monetary relief and damages for injured consumers
    • Pay a civil money penalty of $2 million to the Bureau

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