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Top Story Compliance Related

12/07/2021

FDIC Office of Supervisory Appeals opens

The FDIC’s new Office of Supervisory Appeals (Office) became fully operational yesterday and will begin to consider and decide appeals of material supervisory determinations. The new Office will enhance the independence of the FDIC’s supervisory appeals process and further the FDIC’s goal of ensuring consistency and accountability in the examination process.

The FDIC's Guidelines for Appeals of Material Supervisory Determinations also took effect yesterday.

12/07/2021

OCC report on effects of COVID-19 and risks

The OCC has issued a report on the key issues facing the federal banking system and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the federal banking industry in its Semiannual Risk Perspective for Fall 2021.

Banks are weathering the COVID-19 crisis with resilience and satisfactory credit quality and strong earnings, but weak loan demand and low net interest margins continue to weigh on performance. The OCC highlighted operational, credit, compliance, and strategic risks, among the key risk themes in the report.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Operational risk is elevated as banks respond to an evolving and increasingly complex operating environment and cyber risks.
  • Credit risk is moderate as widespread government programs and appropriate risk management limited the potential credit impact, though some areas warrant continued attention.
  • Compliance risk is heightened, driven by regulatory changes and policy initiatives that continue to challenge risk management.
  • Strategic actions taken by banks to offset earnings impacts of low yields and net interest margin compression remain a risk.

The report also highlights an OCC initiative to act on the risk that climate change presents to the federal banking system.

12/07/2021

OFAC targets corruption in Democratic Republic of the Congo

On Monday, the Department of the Treasury announced that OFAC has sanctioned one individual, Alain Mukonda, for providing support to previously sanctioned billionaire Dan Gertler, as well as 12 entities linked to Mukonda or companies associated with him in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Gibraltar. Mukonda and the 12 entities are designated pursuant to Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world.

For identification details on Mukonda and the 12 entities designated OFAC designated, see Monday's BankersOnline OFAC Update.

12/06/2021

FinCEN working on rules for real estate sector

This morning, FinCEN announced an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("ANPRM") to solicit public comment on a potential rule to address the vulnerability of the U.S. real estate market to money laundering and other illicit activity. FinCEN said the systemic money laundering vulnerabilities presented by the U.S. real estate sector, and consequently, the ability of illicit actors to launder criminal proceeds through the purchase of real estate, threatens U.S. national security and the integrity of the U.S. financial system.

FinCEN has long been concerned with the potential for corrupt officials and illicit actors to launder the proceeds of criminal activity through the purchase of real estate in the United States and has worked to increase transparency in the real estate sector. Given the relative stability of the real estate sector as store of value, the opacity of the real estate market, and gaps in industry regulation, the U.S. real estate market continues to be used as a vehicle for money laundering and can involve businesses and professions that facilitate (even if unwittingly) acquisitions of real estate in the money laundering process.

The ANPRM reflects the concerns highlighted in the newly released U.S. Government Strategy on Countering Corruption, which spotlights the money laundering risks in the U.S. real estate market, as well as the need to protect the sector from abuse by corrupt officials and other illicit actors.

FinCEN has not imposed general recordkeeping and reporting requirements authorized under the Bank Secrecy Act on persons involved in all-cash real estate transactions, but FinCEN has imposed specific transaction reporting requirements on title insurance companies in the form of Geographic Targeting Orders (GTOs). This ANPRM seeks comment on the approach FinCEN should take with respect to both the residential and commercial real estate sectors.

FinCEN recognizes the need to develop a rule that obtains information needed to assist law enforcement and prevent illicit finance in a way that strives to minimize the burden on reporting companies. The ANPRM seeks comments both on the benefits to law enforcement and the prevention of illicit finance as well as potential burdens or challenges that such a reporting requirement might present.

Comments will be accepted for 60 days following Federal Register publication.

12/06/2021

FDIC releases September CRA ratings

The FDIC has released its list of state nonmember banks recently evaluated for compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act whose ratings were assigned in September 2021. Of the 46 banks listed, 41 received ratings of Satisfactory. One Iowa bank received a rating of Needs to Improve.

We congratulate the four banks that received ratings of Outstanding:

12/03/2021

OCC releases CRA evaluations

The OCC has released a list of Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) performance evaluations that became public in November. The list includes national banks, federal savings associations, and insured federal branches of foreign banks that have received ratings.

Of the 17 evaluations made public last month, 13 were rated satisfactory. We congratulate these four, which were rated outstanding:

12/03/2021

Belarusian regime targeted

On Thursday, the Treasury Department announced that OFAC, in response to the Lukashenka regime’s blatant disregard for international norms and the wellbeing of its own citizens, has designated 20 individuals and 12 entities and identifying three aircraft as blocked property pursuant to Executive Orders (E.O.) 14038 and 13405.

As part of yesterday’s action, Treasury also imposed restrictions on dealings in new issuances of Belarusian sovereign debt in the primary and secondary markets, aligning with actions recently taken by allies and partners. OFAC has issued a new Belarus-related directive to hold the Lukashenka regime accountable for its actions and align with recent actions by U.S. partners and allies. Directive 1 under E.O. 14038 prohibits transactions in, provision of financing for, or other dealings by U.S. persons or within the United States in new debt with a maturity of greater than 90 days issued on or after December 2, 2021, by the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Belarus or the Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus. OFAC also issued eight new FAQs and updated another in connection with yesterday's actions.

For links to Directive 1, a new Belarus General License, and the new and revised FAQs, plus identity information on the individuals, entities and aircraft designated by OFAC, see the December 2, 2021, BankersOnline OFAC Update.

12/03/2021

Bureau report on overdraft fees studies

The CFPB has released research on overdraft and non-sufficient funds revenue, which reached an estimated $15.47 billion in 2019. Three banks (JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America) brought in 44% of the total reported that year by banks with assets over $1 billion. The CFPB also found that while small institutions with overdraft programs charged lower fees on average, consumer outcomes were similar to those found at larger banks. The research also notes that, despite a drop in fees collected, many of the fee harvesting practices persisted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Previous CFPB research has shown that overdraft presents serious risks to consumers, with under 9% of consumer accounts paying 10 or more overdrafts per year, accounting for close to 80% of all overdraft revenue.

The first data point, Overdraft/NSF Fee Reliance Since 2015 – Evidence from Bank Call Reports, shows that banks’ revenues from overdraft and NSF fees have been stable, especially before the COVID-19 pandemic. From the beginning of reporting in 2015, aggregate overdraft and NSF fee revenues reported in Call Reports for banks with assets over $1 billion saw a small but steady annual increase of around 1.7% per year to $11.97 billion in 2019. Complementing the Call Report data with data on small institutions, CFPB researchers estimate that the overall market revenue from overdraft and NSF fees was $15.47 billion in 2019. These overdraft and NSF fees made up close to two-thirds of reported fee revenue, emphasizing banks’ heavy reliance on such fees.

The second data point, Checking Account Overdraft at Financial Institutions Served by Core Processors, provides the most detailed and wide-ranging quantitative historical data the Bureau or others have collected on overdraft policies, practices, and outcomes at small financial institutions [in 2014]. The data point looks at institution-level data from several core processors on the way credit unions and smaller banks set up their overdraft programs, and reviews data on consumer overdraft use and fee revenue for a 12-month time period predominantly covering 2014. CFPB researchers report that 92.9% of smaller banks and 60.9% of credit unions had an overdraft program, making such programs less common at these institutions than among large banks. The smaller institutions were also less likely to offer the option to opt in to debit card overdraft, with two thirds of institutions with overdraft offering this option. And, while overdraft and NSF fees were 13 to 19% lower at small banks and credit unions than at large banks, credit unions and small banks with an overdraft program earned $42.33 and $40.37 in annual overdraft revenue per account, respectively, which was just 6% and 11% less than large banks, respectively.

The CFPB said it will be enhancing its supervisory and enforcement scrutiny of banks that are heavily dependent on overdraft fees. In recent years, the CFPB ordered TD Bank to pay $122 million in penalties and customer restitution, and TCF Bank to pay $30 million in penalties and restitution.

SAVE THE DATE!
BOL's John Burnett will present a webinar—Overdrafts: A Current View—on February 22, 2022.

12/02/2021

Consumers defrauded by Lifewatch to receive refunds

The Federal Trade Commission has announced it is sending 71,899 checks for $25.15 (totaling more than $1.8 million) to consumers, including many older Americans, tricked into paying for supposedly free in-home medical alert devices. The money comes from a settlement with New York-based Lifewatch, Inc.

A complaint filed by the FTC jointly with the Florida Attorney General’s Office alleged that the defendants bombarded consumers with at least a billion unsolicited robocalls to pitch supposedly “free” medical alert systems. These pre-recorded messages claimed that Lifewatch’s medical alert system was endorsed or recommended by reputable organizations like the American Heart Association. The company’s telemarketers often told consumers that a medical alert system had been purchased for them, and they could receive it “at no cost whatsoever.” Consumers eventually learned that they were responsible for monthly monitoring fees and that it was difficult to cancel without paying a penalty.

In addition to imposing the monetary penalty to provide consumer refunds, the order settling the FTC’s charges bans the Lifewatch defendants from telemarketing and prohibits them from misrepresenting the terms associated with the sale of any product or service.

12/02/2021

OCC announces 2022 fees and assessments

OCC Bulletin 2021-58, issued Wednesday, announced to national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches and agencies of foreign banks the fees and assessments to be charged by the OCC in calendar year 2022.

  • For the 2022 assessment year, there will be no inflation adjustment to assessment rates.
  • The OCC assesses institutions that enter the federal banking system in the time between assessment cycles. Under current policy, the OCC will assess these new entrants to the federal charter on a prorated basis using call report information as of December 31 or June 30 depending on the date the institution enters the federal banking system. Institutions that enter the federal banking system in the time between assessment cycles and have not previously filed call reports will be assessed a prorated fraction of the lowest tier of the general assessment fee schedule, plus any additional assessments due under other assessment categories in 12 CFR 8. The OCC adopted this policy to ensure that supervisory efforts and resources are allocated and aligned once an institution is subject to the jurisdiction of the OCC. This proration policy is in line with the OCC’s refund policy for institutions that leave the federal banking system.
  • The OCC is increasing the hourly fee for special examinations and investigations to $155 from $150. The increase is to ensure adequacy in recovering the cost of conducting special examinations and investigations.

Details can be found in Bulletin 2021-58.

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