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01/13/2021

2021 NMLS annual conference agenda

The NMLS has posted the agenda for or the 2021 NMLS Annual Conference & Training. The conference will be a virtual experience.

01/13/2021

Minutes of Fed Board discount rate meetings

The Federal Reserve Board has released the minutes of its interest rate meetings from November 16 through December 16, 2020.

01/13/2021

CDFI application Information

The NCUA has announced that federally insured, low-income credit unions seeking Community Development Financial Institution certification can apply to use the National Credit Union Administration’s streamlined qualification process beginning January 24.

CDFI certification makes credit unions eligible for CDFI Fund training and competitive award programs that enhance their capacity to provide underserved communities with access to insured, affordable financial services. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 authorizes additional COVID-19 relief funding for community development financial institutions that predominantly serve minority communities. Approximately a third of this additional funding includes a set-aside for smaller financial institutions with less than $2 billion in assets.

01/12/2021

OFAC acts against Russian-linked actors

On Monday, OFAC took action against seven individuals and four entities that are part of a Russia-linked foreign influence network associated with Andrii Derkach. Russian agent Derkach was designated on September 10, 2020, pursuant to Executive Order 13848, for his attempt to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

For identifying information, see BankersOnline's OFAC Update.

01/12/2021

Regulators propose computer-security incident notice rule

The OCC, Federal Reserve System, and the FDIC have published at 86 FR 2299 in today's Federal Register a proposed rule that would require a banking organization to provide its primary federal regulator with prompt notification of any “computer-security incident” that rises to the level of a “notification incident.” The proposed rule would require such notification upon the occurrence of a notification incident as soon as possible and no later than 36 hours after the banking organization believes in good faith that the incident occurred.

The rule would also require a bank service provider to notify at least two individuals at affected banking organization customers immediately after the bank service provider experiences a computer-security incident that it believes in good faith could disrupt, degrade, or impair services provided for four or more hours.

Comments on the proposal will be accepted for 90 days, through April 12, 2021.

01/12/2021

Federal Reserve to pay $88.5B of 2020 net income to Treasury

The Federal Reserve Board has announced preliminary results indicating that the Reserve Banks provided for payments of approximately $88.5 billion of their estimated 2020 net income to the U.S. Treasury. The 2020 audited Reserve Bank financial statements are expected to be published in March and may include adjustments to these preliminary unaudited results.

The Federal Reserve Banks' 2020 estimated net income of $88.8 billion represents an increase of $33.3 billion from 2019, primarily attributable to a $27.1 billion decrease in interest expense associated with reserve balances held by depository institutions and a $5.3 billion decrease in interest expense associated with securities sold under agreements to resell. The Federal Reserve Banks had interest expense of $7.9 billion primarily associated with reserve balances held by depository institutions, and interest expense of $711 million on securities sold under agreement to repurchase.

Operating expenses of the Reserve Banks, net of amounts reimbursed by the U.S. Treasury and other entities for services the Reserve Banks provided as fiscal agents, totaled $4.5 billion in 2020. In addition, the Reserve Banks were assessed $831 million for the costs related to producing, issuing, and retiring currency, $947 million for Board expenditures, and $517 million to fund the operations of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Additional earnings were derived from income from services of $448 million. Statutory dividends totaled $386 million in 2020.

01/12/2021

Free digital e-learning platform launched by SBA

SBA Administrator Carranza yesterday announced the launch of Ascent, a first-of-its-kind, free digital e-learning platform geared to help women entrepreneurs grow and expand their businesses. Ascent has valuable content such as tips on preparing and recovering from disasters, strategic marketing and business financial strategy development. The platform is a joint initiative between the White House, the SBA, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

01/12/2021

Applications for CFPB advisory committees open

The Bureau has reported it has begun accepting applications for membership on all four of its advisory groups—the Consumer Advisory Board, Community Bank Advisory Board, Credit Union Advisory Board, and Academic Research Council.

01/12/2021

IRS will reissue some EIPs

In an update yesterday, the IRS announced it will reissue EIP payments to certain taxpayers who did not receive their second EIP because temporary bank accounts identified in IRS records were closed.

The affected taxpayers used tax preparation providers for their 2019 tax return filing, and the providers were unable to deliver EIP funds to the taxpayers because of earlier IRS guidance. Their funds were returned to Treasury. These taxpayers' EIPs are being reprocessed by the IRS for direct payment from the government later this month, either as paper checks or as direct deposits. Taxpayers will not need to take any action to receive these payments.

01/11/2021

Federal Reserve December CRA evaluations

As we've previously noted, the Federal Reserve Board does not publicly announce its release of Community Reinvestment Act evaluation ratings. But in our review of the Fed's archives, we found that 16 evaluations were made public in December, 2020. Fourteen of those were rated "Satisfactory." We congratulate these two banks whose evaluations were rated "Outstanding":

01/11/2021

OFAC sanctions Iraqi militia leader

On Friday, OFAC designated Iraqi Popular Mobilization Committee (PMC) Chairman and former National Security Advisor Falih al-Fayyadh for his connection to serious human rights abuse. This action was taken in accordance with 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.

For identification details, an update to OFAC's non-SDN Communist Chinese Military Companies list, and information on issuance of Communist Chinese Military Companies General License 1, see BankersOnline's OFAC Update.

01/11/2021

PPP reopens today

The SBA and Treasury have announced that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will re-open the week of January 11 for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers. To promote access to capital, initially only community financial institutions will be able to make First Draw PPP Loans on Monday, January 11, and Second Draw PPP Loans on Wednesday, January 13. The PPP will open to all participating lenders shortly thereafter. Updated PPP guidance outlining Program changes to enhance its effectiveness and accessibility was released on January 6 in accordance with the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Non-Profits, and Venues Act. Updates include:

  • PPP borrowers can set their PPP loan’s covered period to be any length between 8 and 24 weeks to best meet their business needs;
  • PPP loans will cover additional expenses, including operations expenditures, property damage costs, supplier costs, and worker protection expenditures;
  • The Program’s eligibility is expanded to include 501(c)(6)s, housing cooperatives, destination marketing organizations, among other types of organizations;
  • The PPP provides greater flexibility for seasonal employees;
  • Certain existing PPP borrowers can request to modify their First Draw PPP Loan amount; and
  • Certain existing PPP borrowers are now eligible to apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan.

A borrower is generally eligible for a Second Draw PPP Loan if the borrower:

  • Previously received a First Draw PPP Loan and will or has used the full amount only for authorized uses;
  • Has no more than 300 employees; and
  • Can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020.

01/11/2021

Fed posts November 2020 G.19 Consumer Credit data

The Federal Reserve Board has posted its G.19 Consumer Credit data for November 2020 indicating consumer credit increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.4 percent. Revolving credit decreased at an annual rate of 1.0 percent, while nonrevolving credit increased at an annual rate of 6.1 percent.

01/11/2021

Deutsche Bank settles FCPA violations charges with SEC and Justice

The Securities and Exchange Commission has announced charges against Deutsche Bank AG for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). As part of coordinated resolutions with the SEC and the Department of Justice, Deutsche Bank has agreed to pay more than $120 million, which includes more than $43 million to settle the SEC’s charges. According to the order, Deutsche Bank engaged foreign officials, their relatives, and their associates as third-party intermediaries, business development consultants, and finders to obtain and retain global business. The order finds that Deutsche Bank lacked sufficient internal accounting controls related to the use and payment of such intermediaries, resulting in approximately $7 million in bribe payments or payments for unknown, undocumented, or unauthorized services. The order further finds that these payments were inaccurately recorded as legitimate business expenses and involved invoices and documentation falsified by Deutsche Bank employees.

The SEC’s order finds that Deutsche Bank violated the books and records and internal accounting controls provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Deutsche Bank agreed to a cease-and-desist order and to pay disgorgement of $35 million with prejudgment interest of $8 million to settle the action. The SEC did not impose a civil penalty in light of the $79 million criminal penalty paid in the criminal resolution.

01/08/2021

DoD reschedules MLA systems upgrade

The Department of Defense has posted a notice on its Military Lending Act (MLA) website that the planned systems upgrade originally scheduled for January 19, 2021, is now scheduled for Thursday, January 14, 2021. As previously mentioned, the MLA v 5.7 release will include enhanced security features and measures. The security measures will include additional input restrictions on answers to the Challenge Questions and User's Information fields in the Account Creation process. Please refer to the MLA 5.6 User Guide for the restriction guidelines.

MLA v 5.7 will also remove the limit on the amount of files users can upload per day. Previously the maximum number of files users could upload per day was 50, now users can upload files without a maximum limit. Users should not experience any interruptions in service during this release.

01/08/2021

Treasury launches Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)

The Treasury Department has announced it has launched a $25 billion Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). The program was established under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. ERAP assists households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds are provided directly to states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Territories, local governments with more than 200,000 residents, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, and Indian tribes (including certain Alaska native corporations) or the tribally designated housing entity of an Indian tribe. Eligible grantees must use the funds to provide assistance to eligible households through existing or newly created rental assistance programs.

01/08/2021

EIPs distributed via debit cards

The Treasury Department reports the IRS has started to send approximately 8 million Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) by prepaid debit card. The distribution of EIP Cards follows the millions of payments already made by direct deposit and the ongoing mailing of paper checks and are part of Treasury’s plan to deliver Economic Impact Payments as rapidly as possible.

To address problems with the debit card distribution from the first EIP in 2020, the "EIP2" debit cards are being mailed in white envelopes clearly marked with the Treasury Department seal and a prominent notice, "Not a bill or an advertisement. Important information about your Economic Impact Payment." The sample envelope in Treasury's announcement shows a return address that includes "Economic Impact Payment Card." Reports following last year's card distribution indicated that many cards had been thrown away as promotional (junk) mail.

01/08/2021

Fed bars former Kentucky banker

The Federal Reserve Board announced yesterday it had issued a consent order of prohibition to a former CEO and chairman of Community Financial Services Bank, Benton, Kentucky, for unsafe and unsound lending and customer information practices. The order states that the former banker approved a loan of over $90,000 to a family member, and accessed the bank's customer information of at least two bank customers without authorization and in violation of the bank's written policies and procedures.

01/08/2021

OCC releases CRA evaluations

The OCC has released a list of Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) performance evaluations that became public during the month of December. Of the 23 evaluations listed, 16 are rated satisfactory, and the evaluations of the following seven banks are rated outstanding:

01/07/2021

HMDA filing platform open for 2020 data

The CFPB opened the filing period for HMDA data collected in 2020 on January 1, 2021. The deadline for timely filing 2020 data is March 1, 2021. Financial institutions can access the HMDA Platform to begin the filing process for data collected in 2020 at https://ffiec.cfpb.gov/filing/.

The Beta Testing Platform, found at https://ffiec.beta.cfpb.gov/filing/, will remain available on an ongoing basis for filers wishing to test their submissions. The Beta Testing Platform is for testing purposes only, and data entered on the Beta Testing Platform will not be considered a HMDA submission for compliance with HMDA data reporting requirements.

01/07/2021

Agencies publish rule announced in October

The interagency rule to reduce the impact of large bank failures that was announced in October 2020 has been published in the January 6, 2021, Federal Register.

01/07/2021

Federal Open Market Committee statement and memos

The Federal Open Market Committee has released the statement, press conference economic projections materials, and minutes of its December 15–16, 2020, meeting.

01/07/2021

SC credit union conserved

The NCUA placed C O Federal Credit Union, Charleston, South Carolina in conservatorship on January 5, 2021, because of unsafe and unsound practices at the credit union. During the conservatorship, the NCUA will work to resolve issues affecting the credit union's operations. According to its most recent Call Report, C O FCU has 785 members and assets of $4,488,256.

01/07/2021

French bank settles potential OFAC CMPs

OFAC announced Wednesday a settlement with Union de Banques Arabes et Françaises (“UBAF”), a bank based in France that facilitates trade finance between Europe and the Middle East, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia. UBAF agreed to remit $8,572,500 to settle its potential civil liability for 127 apparent violations of Syria-related sanctions. UBAF processed the payments on behalf of sanctioned Syrian financial institutions with the majority of the apparent violations involving UBAF’s processing of internal transfers on behalf of Syrian entities that were followed by corresponding funds transfers through the U.S. financial system.

01/07/2021

SBA issues guidance and rules for new PPP

The Small Business Administration has issued Guidance on Accessing Capital for Minority, Undeserved, Veteran and Women-Owned Business Concerns under the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program. The Guidance indicates that the SBA will accept PPP loan applications only from community financial institutions for at least the first two days when the PPP portal reopens (the reopening date was not provided).

The SBA also issued its first two interim final rules for the second round of PPP loans. The first of the interim final rules amends the existing PPP rules to reflect changes made by Congress, including on fees, borrower eligibility, loan amounts, eligible expenses, reliance on borrower certifications and loan increases, as well as a new registration requirement for all lenders. However, “most of this document restates existing regulatory provisions to provide lenders and new PPP borrowers a single regulation to consult on borrower eligibility, lender eligibility and loan application and origination requirements, as well as general rules on increases and loan forgiveness for PPP loans,” SBA said.

The second interim rule addresses the second-draw loans now available for borrowers with 300 or fewer employees, that saw a 25% or greater revenue drop in 2020 compared to 2019 and that have used the full amount of their first-draw PPP loan.

01/07/2021

Acting Comptroller responds to CFPB Taskforce report

Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian P. Brooks issued a statement yesterday upon the release of the CFPB's taskforce report endorsing the need for federal charters for financial technology (fintech) companies.

in response to the taskforce's recommendation that the CFPB be empowered to issue federal charters to fintech companies, Brooks said, "Under the law, the agency that grants national charters to companies engaged in lending, payments, or deposit-taking is the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which has the responsibility for prudential supervision to ensure these chartered institutions operate in a safe, sound, and fair manner. In its wisdom, Congress in the Dodd-Frank Act separated chartering and prudential supervision from consumer protection enforcement, assigning chartering authority to the OCC and specific consumer protection enforcement authority to the CFPB."

01/06/2021

IRS updates its EIP FAQs

The IRS has posted an updated FAQ page on Economic Impact Payments ("EIPs" or "stimulus payments"). The updated page includes information on obtaining the Recovery Rebate Credit using the taxpayer's 2020 Form 1040 or 1040-SR and details on use of the IRS Get My Payment tool to determine EIP status. Because there is no mechanism for updating bank account information that the IRS received with a taxpayer's 2019 tax return, some EIPs sent as ACH direct deposits will not post, and banks have been directed to return them.

The FAQs are grouped under these headings:

  • Accessing Get My Payment
  • Payment Status
  • Missing Payments
  • Payment Status Not Available
  • Error Messages/Lockouts
  • Bank Account Information

    01/06/2021

    OFAC targets key actors in Iran's steel sector

    OFAC has designated a China-based supplier of graphite electrodes, a key element in steel production, as well as twelve Iranian producers of steel and other metals products, and three foreign-based sales agents of a major Iranian metals and mining holding company. This action was taken pursuant to Executive Order 13871, which imposes sanctions on several sectors of the Iranian economy, including Iran’s steel sector, that continue to generate significant revenue for the Iranian regime.

    In concurrent actions, the State Department has sanctioned entities and an individual, Majid Sajdeh, under the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012 (IFCA).

    The names and identification information on the sanctioned individual and entities are list in BankersOnline's OFAC Update.

    OFAC also updated its CAATSA FAQs yesterday.

    01/06/2021

    FHFA announces "Duty to Serve" Enterprise plans

    The Federal Housing Finance Agency has announced the 2021 Underserved Markets Plans for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) under the Duty to Serve (DTS) program. The Plans became effective January 1, 2021. FHFA issued a final rule in 2016 that implemented the DTS provisions as mandated by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. The statute requires the Enterprises to serve three specified underserved markets—manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation, and rural housing—by increasing the liquidity of mortgage financing for very low-, low-, and moderate-income families.

    Under ordinary circumstances, each Enterprise would have submitted a three-year Plan for 2021-2023 in accordance with the DTS mandate. Due to potential market disruption and uncertainty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, FHFA instructed the Enterprises to submit Plans for one year (2021) only, as an extension of their 2018-2020 Plans. The activities outlined by the Enterprises to achieve Plan objectives will remain subject to FHFA review and approval to ensure compliance with the Enterprises' Charter Acts, safety and soundness measures, and other conservatorship and regulatory requirements.

    01/06/2021

    CFPB releases Taskforce report

    The CFPB has announced that its Taskforce on Federal Consumer Financial Law has released a report in two volumes [Volume I; Volume II] with recommendations on how to improve consumer protection in the financial marketplace. The Taskforce Report uses five interrelated principles that serve as the foundation for proposed systematic changes to the current legal and regulatory framework: consumer protection, information and education, competition and innovation, regulatory modernization and flexibility, and inclusion and access.

    In its report, the Taskforce makes approximately 100 recommendations to the Bureau, Congress, and state and federal regulators to strengthen consumer protection. Among the Taskforce recommendations are:

    • Authorize the Bureau to issue licenses to non-depository institutions that provide lending, money transmission, and payments services;
    • Expand access to the payment system by unbanked and underbanked consumers and ensure consistent treatment by applying the same rules to similar financial products;
    • Identify competitive barriers and make appropriate recommendations to policymakers and regulators for expanding access to the payments systems by non-bank providers;
    • Research and develop policies tailored to the unique challenges of formerly incarcerated people, and work with state and federal authorities to improve protection of this population;
    • Research and develop policies to address problems of financial inclusion in rural communities;
    • Facilitate creditor access to immigrants’ credit information prior to their arrival in the United States in order to use that information in credit decisions;
    • Research consumer reporting issues that arise in connection with a consumer’s bankruptcy;
    • Consider the benefits and costs of preempting state law where conflicts can impede the provision of valuable products and services, such as the regulation of FinTech companies engaged in money transmission;
    • Identify opportunities to coordinate regulatory efforts. For example, the Bureau and prudential regulators should eliminate overlapping examination subject areas and reconcile inconsistent examination standards that unnecessarily expend multiple resources and can cause confusion;
    • Continue to increase dialogue with state regulators to bridge knowledge gaps and streamline regulation;
    • Work with other agencies to create a unified regulatory regime for new and innovative technologies providing services similar to banks;
    • Establish independent review of the Bureau’s regulatory cost-benefit analyses by staffing an office of cost-benefit analysis at the Bureau and or by submitting its analyses to OIRA for review;
    • Evaluate any positive or negative effect on inclusion as part of the Bureau’s cost-benefit analyses as appropriate;
    • Exercise caution (a recommendation for the Bureau, Congress, and other federal and state regulators) in restricting the use of nonfinancial alternative data, which can be very useful indicators of creditworthiness.
    • Clarify the obligations of CRAs and furnishers with respect to disputes under the FCRA;
    • Assess periodically the accuracy and completeness of consumer credit reports.

    01/05/2021

    OCC proposes rule on permissible bank premises

    The OCC has issued and invited comments on a proposed rule to codify permissibility standards for real estate used a national bank or federal savings association premises. The proposed rule would clarify standards for determining when real estate is necessary for the transaction of an institution's business. Comments on the proposal will be accepted for 45 days following its Federal Register publication.

    01/05/2021

    FDIC releases CRA ratings

    The FDIC has released a list of banks examined for compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act whose evaluation ratings were assigned in October, 2020. Of the 66 banks listed, these eight banks received evaluation ratings of "Outstanding":

    The remaining 58 banks on the list received evaluation ratings of "Satisfactory."

    01/05/2021

    OFAC issues Venezuela-related license and updates FAQ

    OFAC has posted a Notice of Recent Actions announcing it has issued General License 31A, "Certain Transactions Involving the IV Venezuelan National Assembly, the Interim President of Venezuela, and Certain Other Persons Authorized" (replacing and superseding General License 31, dated August 5, 2019). In addition, OFAC has amended related Frequently Asked Question 679.

    01/05/2021

    Update on EIP distributions

    EIP distributions, sometimes called stimulus payments, began Round 2 last week and have started appearing in banks accounts across the country. Those that are being sent as ACH credits include the "XX" characters that distinguish payments that are not subject to garnishment. The IRS has also begun mailing EIP checks and will be sending EIP prepaid debit cards in some cases. There is no need to apply or register with the IRS, since information from the first EIP round is being used for the second round. The IRS has updated its "Get My Payment" to show the status of both Round One and Round Two EIPs.

    According to an IRS press release, distribution will continue through mid-January. If taxpayers have not received their EIP by the time they file their 2020 tax returns, they can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on their returns, where the credit will be calculated based on 2020 tax year information, including income.

    A couple of reminders:

    • If an EIP by ACH is sent to a closed account, it should be returned using return reason R02
    • EIP ACH entries directed to deceased individuals' accounts should be returned using reason R15

    01/05/2021

    20 new Women's Business Centers launched

    The SBA has announced grant funding and the historic launch of 20 new Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) to serve rural, urban and underserved communities alike. The opening of the 20 new WBCs is the largest single expansion of WBCs across America in the 30-year WBC history, and these centers will be pivotal to the success of women-owned businesses as they continue to recover from the current pandemic-inflicted economy. The WBCs will be hosted in rural and underserved markets and widen the footprint and partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

    SBA’s WBCs are a national network of 136 centers that offer one-on-one counseling, training, networking, workshops, technical assistance, and mentoring to women entrepreneurs on numerous business development topics, including business startup, financial management, marketing, and procurement. The new WBCs include:

    • Regional Economic Assistance for Communicating Hope (REACH) Catalyst Women’s Business Center – Clanton, Alabama
    • Chicanos Pro La Causa, Inc. (CPLC’s) Women’s Business Center - Phoenix, Arizona
    • El Pajaro Regional Women’s Business Center – Monterey, California
    • Mission Community Women’s Business Center serving Kern County – Bakersfield, California
    • Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE) Savannah Women’s Business Center – Savannah, Georgia
    • Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) WBC South – Portland, Maine
    • Women’s Business Center at Jackson State University (HBCU) – Jackson, Mississippi - Hinds County
    • New Growth Women’s Business Center, West Central – Springfield, Missouri
    • Missoula Women’s Business Center – Missoula, Montana
    • GROW Nebraska Women’s Business Center (GNWBC) – Omaha, Nebraska
    • Women’s Enterprise and Development, Mid-Hudson – Hudson, New York
    • Winston Salem State University (WSSU) Women’s Business Center (HBCU) – Winston Salem, North Carolina
    • Women’s Business Center of Central Appalachia – Portsmouth, Ohio
    • Women’s eBusiness Center of Excellence – Erie, Pennsylvania
    • The Women’s Business Center South – Memphis, Tennessee
    • South Carolina Women’s Business Center – Charleston, South Carolina
    • South Dakota Women’s Business Center (East) – Sioux Falls, South Dakota
    • Women’s Business Center of Montgomery County, East Harris County, and West Chambers County – Houston, Texas
    • Women’s Business Center of Richmond – Richmond, Virginia
    • Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation Southwest – La Crosse, Wisconsin

      01/05/2021

      OCC 2020 Annual Report

      The OCC has issued its Annual Report for 2020, which provides Congress with an overview of the condition of the federal banking system. The annual report discusses the OCC's strategic priorities and details agency regulatory and policy initiatives. Additionally, the report discusses the agency's financial management and condition, including its audited financial statements.

      01/05/2021

      OCC clarifies bank and thrift participation in INVN and stablecoins

      The OCC has released Interpretive Letter 1174 to clarify national banks’ and federal savings associations’ authority to participate in independent node verification networks (INVN) and to use stablecoins to conduct payment activities and other bank-permissible functions. The agency letter concludes a national bank or federal savings association may validate, store, and record payments transactions by serving as a node on an INVN. Likewise, a bank may use INVNs and related stablecoins to carry out other permissible payment activities. In deploying these technologies, a bank must comply with applicable law and safe, sound, and fair banking practices.

      A common form of INVN is a distributed ledger, such as the ledgers on which crytocurrency transactions are recorded. In its Interpretive Letter 1170 (July 20, 2020), the OCC described distributed ledger technology as a shared electronic database where copies of the same information are stored on multiple computers. This shared database functions as both a mechanism to prevent tampering and as a way to add new information to the database. Information will not be added to the distributed ledger until consensus is reached that the information is valid. INVNs represent one of the key technologies that support the novel exchange mechanism underlying cryptocurrency. The other key technology is advanced cryptography.

      01/04/2021

      NCUA prohibition orders

      The National Credit Union Administration has announced it issued two prohibition orders in December, barring individuals from participating in the affairs of any federally insured financial institution.

      01/04/2021

      IRS relief for certain energy projects

      The Treasury and the IRS have announced the IRS has issued guidance providing an extension of the safe harbor for taxpayers developing renewable energy projects offshore or on federal land. Renewable energy projects constructed offshore or on federal land are ordinarily subject to significant delays that can result in project completion times of up to twice as long as other renewable energy projects. These delays threaten taxpayers’ ability to satisfy requirements to claim the production tax credit and the investment tax credit.

      The Treasury Department and the IRS have determined that it is necessary to extend the safe harbor period to up to 10 calendar years after the year in which construction of the project began. By extending the safe harbor for these projects, Notice 2021-5 will provide flexibility for taxpayers constructing renewable energy projects offshore or on federal land to satisfy the beginning of construction requirements despite ordinary course delays that threaten their ability to claim tax credits.

      01/04/2021

      2019 Terrorist Assets Report

      OFAC has released the 2019 Terrorist Assets Report. This is the 28th annual report to Congress on assets in the U.S. relating to terrorist countries and organizations engaged in international terrorism.

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