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Top Story Compliance Related

11/07/2019

Retirement plan contribution limits increase

The Internal Revenue Service has announced that the contribution limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government's Thrift Savings Plan is increased from $19,000 to $19,500. The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over who participate in these plans is increased from $6,000 to $6,500.The limitation regarding SIMPLE retirement accounts for 2020 is increased to $13,500, up from $13,000 for 2019. The income ranges for determining eligibility to make deductible contributions to traditional Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), to contribute to Roth IRAs and to claim the Saver's Credit all increased for 2020. Taxpayers can deduct contributions to a traditional IRA if they meet certain conditions. If during the year either the taxpayer or his or her spouse was covered by a retirement plan at work, the deduction may be reduced, or phased out, until it is eliminated, depending on filing status and income. (If neither the taxpayer nor his or her spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work, the phase-outs of the deduction do not apply.)

11/07/2019

IRS tax year 2020 annual inflation adjustments

The IRS has announced the tax year 2020 annual inflation adjustments for more than 60 tax provisions, including the tax rate schedules and other tax changes

11/07/2019

HomeStreet Bank pays $1.35 million for RESPA violations

The FDIC has announced a settlement with HomeStreet Bank, Seattle, Washington, for violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). HomeStreet stipulated to the issuance of a civil money penalty order to pay $1,350,000.

The FDIC determined that HomeStreet Bank entered into co-marketing arrangements in which the bank and real estate brokers agreed to market their services together using online platforms. The FDIC also determined that the bank entered into desk rental agreements under which the bank rented space in the offices of real estate brokers and home builders. These arrangements and agreements resulted in the payment of fees by the bank to real estate brokers and home builders for their referrals of mortgage loan business, in violation of RESPA.

While co-marketing arrangements and desk rental agreements are permissible where the fees paid bear a reasonable relationship to the fair market value of marketing or rental costs, such arrangements and agreements violate RESPA when the amounts paid exceed fair market value and the excess is for referrals of mortgage business.

11/06/2019

AT&T pays $60M to settle FTC allegations

AT&T Mobility, LLC will pay $60 million to settle litigation with the Federal Trade Commission over allegations that the wireless provider misled millions of its smartphone customers by charging them for “unlimited” data plans while reducing their data speeds. In a complaint filed in 2014, the FTC alleged that AT&T failed to adequately disclose to its unlimited data plan customers that, if they reach a certain amount of data use in a given billing cycle, AT&T would reduce—or “throttle”—their data speeds to the point that many common mobile phone applications, such as web browsing and video streaming, became difficult or nearly impossible to use.

11/06/2019

FDIC CRA evaluations

The FDIC has released a list of Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) performance Evaluations that became public in November. Of the 82 institutions listed, 76 were rated satisfactory. Congratulations to these six institutions, which were rated outstanding (links are to their evaluation reports):

11/06/2019

Five more Venezuelan officials identified by OFAC

Treasury has announced that OFAC has identified and added to the SDN List five current officials of the Government of Venezuela pursuant to Executive Order 13884, which blocks the property and interests in property of the Government of Venezuela and those who have acted or purported to have acted on its behalf and associated with the government’s rampant violence against peaceful opposition protesters, and those who continue to benefit from the corrupt former regime. Identification information for these five officials can be found in BankersOnline's OFAC Update.

OFAC also issued amended Venezuela-related General License 34A and new Venezuela-related General License 35, issued new and amended FAQs, and revoked Syrian-related General Licenses 2 and 3.

11/06/2019

Connecticut housing authority pays $1.5M to settle discrimination claims

HUD has announced that, on November 4, the U.S. Department of Justice negotiated a settlement with the Housing Authority of the City of Bridgeport (HACB), doing business as Park City Communities in Connecticut, settling allegations that HACB discriminated against persons with disabilities by failing to provide accessible units and ignoring their requests for reasonable accommodations. HACB owns and manages more than 2,600 units of public housing and administers more than 2,800 vouchers under HUD’s Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. Under the terms of the agreement, HACB will establish a $1.5 million compensation fund that will be used to make payments to individuals who were harmed by HACB’s alleged discrimination and increase its housing stock to include units for people with disabilities. The proposed consent decree must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.

11/05/2019

FATF Business Bulletin November 2019

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has posted its November 2019 Business Bulletin, which lists the following strategic initiatives of the organization:

  • Money laundering risk from “stable coins” and other emerging assets
  • Understanding digital identity
  • New work on combating the laundering of proceeds of illegal wildlife trade

The mutual evaluations of Russia and Turkey plus the follow-up assessment of Norway and Spain were also reported.

11/05/2019

Appointees of Iranian leader designated

OFAC has announced the designation of Iran’s Armed Forces General Staff and nine individuals who are appointees of, or have acted for or on behalf of, Ali Khamenei, the Iranian regime’s unelected Supreme Leader, whose office is responsible for advancing Iran’s radical agenda. The names of a Venezuelan corporation and crude oil tanker were deleted.

For identification information on the additions to and removals from the SDN List, see BankersOnline's OFAC Update.

11/04/2019

OCC CRA evaluations

The OCC has released a list of Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) performance evaluations that became public in October. Of the 37 institutions listed, 28 were rated satisfactory, one was rated need to improve, and these eight bank were rated outstanding (links are to their evaluation reports):

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