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04/19/2021

CFPB updates Debt Collection small entity guide

The CFPB has updated its Small Entity Compliance Guide for the Debt Collection Rule (Regulation F, 12 CFR Part 1006) to add discussion of the December 2020 Rule's requirements.

The CFPB's proposed rule and request for public comment that would postpone the effective date of the December 2020 Rule from November 30, 2021, to January 29, 2022, has been published, with a comment period ending May 19, 2021.

04/16/2021

First action filed under COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act

The Federal Trade Commission has announced it has charged St. Louis-based chiropractor Eric Anthony Nepute and his company Quickwork LLC with violating the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act, by deceptively marketing products containing vitamin D and zinc as scientifically proven to treat or prevent COVID-19. This is the first case the FTC has brought under the new law.

In a federal complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on the FTC’s behalf, the Commission is asking the court to exercise a provision of the new law to impose monetary penalties on Nepute and Quickwork, and to grant a preliminary injunction against the defendants. According to the complaint, the defendants marketed the vitamin D and zinc products under the brand name “Wellness Warrior,” and claimed that they were as, or more, effective than vaccines that are currently available. In addition to monetary penalties, the complaint seeks to bar the defendants from making such health claims unless they are true and can be substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence. The Commission also seeks to bar the defendants from falsely claiming to have scientific evidence about the effects of vitamin D and zinc on COVID-19.

04/16/2021

CDRLF Grant Round to open

The NCUA has announced that low-income-designated credit unions seeking Community Development Revolving Loan Fund (CDRLF) grants in 2021 will be able to apply between May 3 and June 26. The agency will administer approximately $1.5 million in CDRLF grants to the most-qualified applicants, subject to the availability of funds. Grants will be awarded in three categories:

  • Underserved Outreach (maximum award of $50,000);
  • Minority Depository Institution Mentoring (maximum award of $25,000); and
  • Digital Services and Cybersecurity (maximum award of $7,000).

04/16/2021

OCC publishes Allowance for Credit Losses booklet

The OCC has issued the new “Allowances for Credit Losses” booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook, which is prepared for use by OCC examiners in connection with the examination and supervision of national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches and agencies of foreign banking organizations. The booklet provides examiners with information and examination procedures regarding allowances for credit losses (ACL). This booklet applies to the OCC’s supervision of banks that have adopted the current expected credit losses (CECL) methodology under Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) Topic 326. The “Allowance for Loan and Lease Losses” booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook continues to apply to the OCC’s supervision of banks that have not adopted CECL.

04/16/2021

OCC enforcement actions announced

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has announced new enforcement actions taken in February and March. Among those actions were:

04/16/2021

$41M for HOPWA housing

HUD is making $41 million in Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) competitive funding available to states, local governments, and non-profits through the HOPWA: Housing as an Intervention to Fight AIDS funding opportunity. Housing instability has been a major issue facing many persons living with HIV since the beginning of the epidemic. Achieving and maintaining stable housing can be a powerful structural intervention in ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic. HUD will publish a pre-application webcast by April 30, 2021 for anyone interested in submitting an application for the HOPWA: Housing as an Intervention to Fight AIDS funding opportunity.

04/16/2021

Treasury escalates Russia-related sanctions

The U. S. Department of the Treasury issued three press releases on Thursday announcing escalated sanctions against the Russian government's attempts to influence U.S. elections, the sanctioning of Russian persons in the Crimea region of Ukraine, and actions taken against Russia under a sweeping new sanctions authority.

Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took action against 16 entities and 16 individuals who attempted to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election at the direction of the leadership of the Russian Government, following the Intelligence Community’s “Assessment of Foreign Threats to the 2020 U.S. Federal Elections.” The assessment addresses the intentions and efforts of key foreign actors, including Russia, to influence or interfere with the U.S. elections and undermine public confidence in the election process.

OFAC also designated five individuals and three entities related to Russia’s occupation of the Crimea region of Ukraine and its severe human rights abuses against the local population.

Under the authority of a new Executive Order targeting aggressive and harmful activities by the Government of the Russian Federation, OFAC issued a directive that generally prohibits U.S. financial institutions from participating in the primary market for ruble or non-ruble denominated bonds issued after June 14, 2021 by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation, or the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation, and further prohibits U.S. financial institutions from lending ruble or non-ruble denominated funds to these three entities. This directive expands upon existing prohibitions on certain dealings in Russian sovereign debt that have been in place since August 2019.

OFAC also designated ERA Technopolis; Pasit, AO (Pasit); Federal State Autonomous Scientific Establishment Scientific Research Institute Specialized Security Computing Devices and Automation (SVA); Neobit, OOO (Neobit); Advanced System Technology, AO (AST); and Pozitiv Teknolodzhiz, AO (Positive Technologies), all of which are companies operating in the technology sector of the Russian Federation economy that support Russian Intelligence Services.

Additional information and identification of the persons designated under OFAC's actions can be found in BankersOnline's OFAC Update.

04/16/2021

February TIC data posted

The Treasury International Capital Data for February 2021 have been released. The sum total in February of all net foreign acquisitions of long-term securities, short-term U.S. securities, and banking flows was a net TIC inflow of $72.6 billion. Of this, net foreign private inflows were $60.9 billion, and net foreign official inflows were $11.8 billion. Foreign residents decreased their holdings of long-term U.S. securities in February; net sales were $7.3 billion. Net sales by private foreign investors were $15.3 billion, while net purchases by foreign official institutions were $7.9 billion. U.S. residents decreased their holdings of long-term foreign securities, with net sales of $11.5 billion.

04/16/2021

G.17 Industrial Production data released

The Federal Reserve has released March 2021 G.17 Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization data. In March 2021, total industrial production increased 1.4 percent. The gain in March followed a drop of 2.6 percent in February, which largely resulted from widespread outages related to severe winter weather in the south central region of the country. For the first quarter as a whole, total industrial production rose 2.5 percent at an annual rate. In March, manufacturing production and mining output increased 2.7 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively. The output of utilities dropped 11.4 percent, as the demand for heating fell because of a swing in temperatures from an unseasonably cold February to an unseasonably warm March.

At 105.6 percent of its 2012 average, total industrial production in March was 1.0 percent higher than its year-earlier level, but it was 3.4 percent below its pre-pandemic (February 2020) level. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector increased 1.0 percentage point in March to 74.4 percent, a rate that is 5.2 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2020) average.

04/15/2021

FTC: Holder Rule has no dollar limit

The Federal Trade Commission has issued a note correcting previous staff guidelines on its Trade Regulation Rule Concerning Preservation of Consumers’ Claims and Defenses—commonly known as the Holder Rule—which protects consumers who enter into credit contracts for the sale or lease of goods by preserving their right to assert claims and defenses against any holder of certain loans and credit sales contracts, even if the loans or contracts are assigned to a third party.

The note, dated April 12, 2021, corrects an erroneous statement in a 1976 pamphlet by FTC staff that the Holder Rule did not apply to transactions larger than $25,000. Those staff guidelines stated that the Rule incorporates the transaction cap that was present in the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). In the new note, staff points out that no such incorporation exists in the Rule, which was first issued in 1975, and that the erroneous guidance contradicts a statement by the Commission that the application of the Rule does not depend on the amount of the transaction. The note states that the text of the Holder Rule does not contain any exemption based on the size of a transaction.

04/15/2021

April Beige Book released

The Federal Reserve Board has released the April 2021 Beige Book. Reports from the Reserve Districts show that national economic activity accelerated to a moderate pace from late February to early April. Consumer spending strengthened. Reports on tourism were more upbeat, bolstered by a pickup in demand for leisure activities and travel which contacts attributed to spring break, an easing of pandemic-related restrictions, increased vaccinations, and recent stimulus payments among other factors.

Auto sales grew, even as new-vehicle inventories remained constrained by microchip shortages. The picture in nonfinancial services generally improved, partly supported by strengthening demand for transportation, professional and business, and leisure and hospitality services. Despite widespread supply chain disruptions, manufacturing activity expanded further with half the Districts citing robust growth. Bankers in most reporting Districts saw modest to moderate increases in overall loan volumes.

Sustained high demand and tight supply of single-family homes further pushed up prices, and builders noted ongoing production challenges, including rising costs. Reports on commercial real estate and construction varied, with activity in the hotel, office, and retail segments generally remaining weak. Agricultural conditions were mostly stable over the reporting period. Activity in the energy sector was mixed; coal production fell, while oil and gas drilling was flat to up. Outlooks were more optimistic than in the previous report, boosted in part by an acceleration in COVID-19 vaccinations.

04/15/2021

SEC charges operators of oil-and-gas offering fraud scheme

The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged seven individuals, including criminal recidivist Richard Dale Sterritt Jr., with defrauding investors through a multimillion dollar oil-and-gas offering fraud and related market manipulation scheme. The complaint filed by the SEC alleges that, between March 2018 and at least November 2020, Sterritt – who used the pseudonym "Richard Richman" – Michael Greer, Deanna Looney, Robert Magness Jr., Katie Mathews, James Christopher Pittman, and Mark Ross raised more than $16 million from more than 300 investors through an unregistered private placement of the common stock of Zona Energy Inc., a Dallas-based company that claimed to be focused on the oil and gas industry.

According to the complaint, the defendants made various false and misleading statements verbally and in offering materials to solicit investors, including that their funds would be used to support Zona's operations, namely to develop the mineral rights on a West Texas cattle ranch. The complaint further alleges that instead of using investors' money to capitalize Zona, Sterritt and his co-defendants misappropriated millions of dollars raised in the offering, using the funds to pay for luxury goods, rental apartments, a car, and to make cash payments to friends, family members, and Sterritt's girlfriends. Also, according to the complaint, the offering materials falsely claimed that Zona had no debt when the company actually owed millions of dollars in demand notes to various Sterritt-controlled companies. The complaint also alleges that Sterritt, Magness, and Ross also conducted a manipulative trading scheme in the securities of OrgHarvest Inc., a Sterritt-controlled public issuer, in an attempt to inflate the price of the stock so that they could sell their shares to unsuspecting investors for a profit.

04/15/2021

Fifth batch of EIP3 payments sent

The IRS has announced it has disbursed nearly 2 million payments in the fifth batch of Economic Impact Payments from the American Rescue Plan.

  • In total, this batch includes nearly 2 million payments with a value of more than $3.4 billion.
  • More than 320,000 payments, with a total value of $450 million, went to VA beneficiaries who receive Compensation and Pension benefit payments but who don’t normally file a tax return and didn’t use the Non-Filers tool last year.
  • Nearly 850,000 payments, with a total value of nearly $1.6 billion, went to eligible individuals for whom the IRS previously did not previously have information to issue an EIP but who recently filed a tax return.
  • This batch also includes additional ongoing supplemental payments for people who earlier this year received payments based on their 2019 tax returns but are eligible for a new or larger payment based on their recently processed 2020 tax returns. This batch included more than 700,000 million of these “plus-up” payments, with a total value of more than $1.2 billion.
  • Another 72,000 payments went to Social Security beneficiaries who didn’t file a 2020 or 2019 tax return and didn’t use the Non-Filers tool last year.
  • Overall, this fifth batch of payments contains nearly 1.2 million direct deposit payments (with a total value of just under $2 billion and a Settlement Date of April 14) and nearly 800,000 paper check payments (with a total value of over $1.4 billion).

04/15/2021

Treasury establishes Office of Recovery Programs

The Treasury Department has announced it has established the Office of Recovery Programs to lead the Department’s implementation of economic relief and recovery programs, including nearly $420 billion in programs from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. This new office, which will be led by the Chief Recovery Officer, will report to Treasury’s Deputy Secretary and will be principally focused on efficiently establishing and administering Treasury’s programs to support an equitable and swift recovery from the economic challenges precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Office’s inaugural Chief Recovery Officer is Jacob Leibenluft, who will serve as the lead administrator of recovery programs and the principal advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary on recovery program implementation.

04/14/2021

FEMA to suspend 7 California communities next week

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has published a Federal Register notice [86 FR 19580, 4/14/2021] that the agency has scheduled seven California communities for suspension from the National Flood Insurance Program for noncompliance with the floodplain management requirements of the program.

The affected communities are the cities of Carson, Culver City, Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, and Santa Monica, all in Los Angeles County.

The suspensions are scheduled for April 21, 2021. However, if FEMA receives documentation that a listed community has adopted the required floodplain management measures prior to April 21, the community will not be suspended.

04/14/2021

OCC names four Senior National Bank Examiners

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced yesterday it has designated Brad Biedermann, Kimberly Cahill, James Calhoun, and Roberta Caruso as Senior National Bank Examiners.

The Senior National Bank Examiner designation recognizes examiners who have distinguished themselves through high-quality performance and service as field examiners, subject matter experts, and advisors on highly complex and technical bank supervision issues. This is the highest honor bestowed to national bank examiners.

04/14/2021

Fed Board discount rate meeting minutes

The Federal Reserve Board has released the minutes of its interest rate meetings from February 8 through March 17, 2021.

04/14/2021

CFPB and SettleIt propose settlement order

The CFPB has announced an action against SettleIt, Inc., a California-based online debt-settlement company, for taking advantage of consumers, failing to disclose its relationship to certain creditors, and steering consumers into high-cost loans offered by affiliated lenders. The Bureau has filed a federal court complaint alleging that SettleIt, Inc. engaged in abusive acts or practices under the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 (CFPA) and violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR).

According to the CFPB, SettleIt, Inc. presents itself as an independent debt-settlement company that helps consumers negotiate with creditors like CashCall and LoanMe. But SettleIt is affiliated with CashCall and LoanMe — the same individual owns SettleIt and CashCall, and LoanMe is tied to SettleIt through loans and agreements. The CFPB alleges that SettleIt abused consumers’ trust by charging fees to negotiate settlements that favor those companies. The CFPB also alleges that SettleIt steered distressed consumers into taking out expensive loans with CashCall and LoanMe, while hiding the fact that SettleIt took its debt-settlement fees from these loan proceeds. SettleIt kept consumers in the dark about its relationships with CashCall and LoanMe, and it even included language in call scripts saying “we are not owned or operated by any of your creditors.”

The Bureau and SettleIt filed a proposed order that, if entered by the court, would require SettleIt to return at least $646,000 in fees to consumers, pay a $750,000 civil penalty, and stop settling debts for creditors with which it shares an ownership interest.

04/13/2021

Fed CAC membership applications open

The Federal Reserve Board of Governors has announced that it is accepting applications from individuals who wish to be considered for membership on the Board's Community Advisory Council (CAC).

The CAC was formed in 2015. It advises the Board on issues affecting consumers and communities and complements two of the Board's other advisory councils whose members represent depository institutions—the Federal Advisory Council and the Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council. The CAC is made up of a diverse group of experts and representatives of consumer and community development organizations and interests, including affordable housing, community and workforce development, small business, and asset and wealth building. CAC members meet semiannually with members of the Board in Washington to provide a range of perspectives on the economic circumstances and financial services needs of consumers and communities, with a particular focus on the concerns of low- and moderate-income consumers and communities.

The Board expects to announce the appointment of CAC members in the fall of 2021. Applicants from previous years are encouraged to re-apply in 2021.

04/13/2021

Freddie and Fannie to limit loan eligibility to new QM rule

Fannie Mae, in Lender Letter LL-2021-09, and Freddie Mac, in Guide Bulletin 2021-13, announced that any loans purchased by the GSEs after July 1, 2021, must conform to the requirements outlined in the CFPB’s recently finalized QM final rule. Both GSEs clarified that they will continue to buy loans that fall under the "GSE patch" that have application dates on or before June 30 and settlement dates before September 1, and are purchased as whole loans before September 1, or in mortgage-backed securities pools with an issue date on or before August 1.

04/13/2021

HUD awards $90M+ to tribes and TDHEs

HUD has announced over $90 million in grant awards to 24 tribes and tribally designated housing entities (TDHEs) across the country to support new housing construction, housing rehabilitation, and critical infrastructure projects. The funds were awarded through HUD’s Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) competitive program to help construct new housing units for low-income families living in tribal communities. It is projected that this funding will support the construction of approximately 350 new housing units, which will help spur economic opportunities in these communities.

04/13/2021

FDIC and Pratt School partner to promote innovation

Yesterday, the FDIC and Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering announced a strategic partnership to support technological innovation in the banking and financial services sectors. Duke Engineering is home to a range of programs that apply technology to enterprise innovation, including master’s degree programs in FinTech, Cybersecurity, AI for Product Innovation and Engineering Management.

04/13/2021

Funding for Brooklyn housing development halted

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced that it has begun procedures to suspend federal affordable housing funds to Carbrook Associates, LP (Carbrook), after a HUD investigation revealed that Carbrook violated federal anti-discrimination laws in the operation of 81 units of multifamily housing in Brooklyn, New York.

04/12/2021

Agencies' statement and RFI on BSA model risk management guidance

The federal banking agencies, in consultation with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and the National Credit Union Administration, on Friday issued a joint statement addressing how risk management principles described in the "Supervisory Guidance on Model Risk Management" relate to systems or models used by banks to assist in complying with the requirements of Bank Secrecy Act laws and regulations. The statement further notes that it does not alter existing BSA/AML legal or regulatory requirements or establish new supervisory expectations, and that no specific model risk management framework is required.

The agencies, along with the National Credit Union Administration and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, also announced a request for information on the extent to which the principles discussed in the guidance support compliance by banks and credit unions with BSA/AML and Office of Foreign Assets Control requirements. The agencies are seeking comments and information to better understand bank practices and determine whether additional explanation or clarification may be helpful.

Comments to the RFI will be accepted for 60 days, through June 11, 2021.

04/12/2021

FDIC request for input on revision of official sign and ad requirements

The FDIC is renewing its February 2020 request for input regarding potential modernization of the official FDIC sign and advertising rules (12 C.F.R. Part 328) to reflect changes in deposit-taking via physical branch, digital, and mobile banking channels. The FDIC last significantly updated the rules in 2006. Last year's request for input was postponed in April 2020 due to shifted priorities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FDIC encourages comments from all interested parties. The comment period closes on May 24th.

  • FIL-26-2021
  • 04/12/2021

    President’s priorities for discretionary funding

    Department of Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas issued a statement Friday on the president's priorities for fiscal year 2022 discretionary spending, which have been submitted to Congress. The budget invests in key DHS missions, including repairing a broken immigration system, better managing the border with advanced technology, protecting civil rights, and bolstering cyber defenses and resilience. The discretionary request also includes investments to address the root causes of domestic terrorism, combat climate change, and increase funding for research and development.

    04/12/2021

    HUD awards $13.7M for emergency safety and security

    HUD has announced it has awarded $13.7 million to public housing authorities throughout the country to make needed capital improvements in public housing developments that serve to enhance safety and security for residents.

    The funds are awarded through HUD’s Capital Fund Emergency Safety and Security Program, which supports public housing authorities as they address the safety of public housing residents. These grants may be used to install, repair, or replace capital equipment or systems that contribute to a safer living environment for residents, including security systems/surveillance cameras, fencing, lighting systems, emergency alarm systems, window bars, deadbolt locks, doors, and carbon monoxide detectors.

    04/09/2021

    SBA opens Shuttered Venue Operators Grant portal

    The U.S. Small Business Administration officially opened the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) application portal yesterday, April 8, 2021, at 12 p.m. EDT for operators of live venues, live performing arts organizations, museums and movie theatres, as well as live venue promoters, theatrical producers and talent representatives to apply for critical economic relief, as those eligible entities are some of the first that had to shutter their doors a year ago in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The SVOG program was appropriated more than $16.2 billion for grants via the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act and the American Rescue Plan Act. Of these funds, at least $2 billion is reserved for eligible SVOG applications with up to 50 full-time employees. Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue up to a maximum amount of $10 million for a single grant.

    04/09/2021

    HUD allocates $5B in American Rescue Plan funds

    HUD has announced the allocation of nearly $5 billion in American Rescue Plan funds to help communities across the country create affordable housing and services for people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. The supplemental funding is allocated through the HOME Investment Partnerships Program to 651 grantees, including states, insular areas, and local governments.

    04/09/2021

    Fed proposes to automate routine Fed stock adjustments

    The Federal Reserve Board has announced it is requesting public comment on a proposal to automate non-merger-related adjustments to member banks' subscriptions to Federal Reserve Bank capital stock. The automated process would eliminate the need for member banks to file applications to adjust their stock subscriptions—except in the context of mergers—and would significantly reduce the annual reporting burden.

    Regulation I, which governs the issuance and cancellation of capital stock by the Reserve Banks, currently requires that a member bank apply to adjust its stock subscription at least annually and sometimes quarterly. A member bank determines its required stock subscription based on its capital and surplus (or total deposit liabilities for a mutual savings bank) as reported in the member bank's most recent Call Report. The Reserve Banks are developing software that will automatically pull the information needed to calculate member banks' required stock subscriptions from Call Reports and thereby automate the stock adjustment process. Further, the Board proposes that a Reserve Bank would adjust a member bank's stock subscription each time the member bank files a Call Report.

    The proposal would also make certain other technical changes to the regulation. Comments will be accepted for 60 days following publication of the proposal.

    PUBLICATION AND COMMENT PERIOD UPDATE: Scheduled for publication on 4/13/2021, with comments due by 6/14/2021.

    04/09/2021

    Fed issues consent prohibition order

    The Federal Reserve Board has issued a Consent Order of Prohibition against Blake King, a former loan officer of Farmers Bank of Northern Missouri, Unionville, Missouri, for making internal transfers, deposits, and cash withdrawals totaling over $45,390 from a bank customer’s account for his personal benefit and without authorization.

    04/09/2021

    FDIC Minority Depository Institutions subcommittee meets Monday

    An open meeting of the FDIC Minority Depository Institutions (MDI) Subcommittee to the Advisory Committee on Community Banking will be held Monday, April 12, at 1 p.m. EDT. During the public portion of the meeting, the MDI Subcommittee members will share insights into key challenges and opportunities facing their communities and financial institutions. During the MDI Spotlight feature, Robert James II, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Board Member of Carver State Bank in Savannah, Georgia, will discuss collaboration best practices by a group of Black MDIs that came together to syndicate a $35 million loan to refinance the Atlanta Hawks Emory Sports Medicine Complex. Following the public meeting, MDI Subcommittee members will provide feedback on the FDIC’s strategies to preserve and promote MDIs. Topics include the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s new Emergency Capital Investment Program.

    The subcommittee meeting will be webcast live at http://fdic.windrosemedia.com/.

    04/09/2021

    Missouri bank assessed $11,000 flood penalty

    The Federal Reserve Board has announced its assessment of an $11,000 civil money penalty on a Missouri bank for violations of the National Flood Insurance Act.

    04/09/2021

    Burmese gems enterprise sanctioned

    Yesterday, OFAC designated Myanma Gems Enterprise, a Burmese state-owned entity that is responsible for all gemstone activities in Burma. Gemstones are a key economic resource for the Burmese military regime that is violently repressing pro-democracy protests in the country and that is responsible for the ongoing lethal attacks against the people of Burma, including the killing of children. These sanctions are not directed at the people of Burma.

    Myanma Gems Enterprise was designated under Executive Order 14014, “Blocking Property with Respect to the Situation in Burma,” for being a political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality of the Government of Burma.

    Further identification information on Myanma Gems Enterprise can be found in BankersOnline's OFAC Update.

    04/08/2021

    OFAC sanctions human smuggling organization

    Yesterday, OFAC designated Pakistani national Abid Ali Khan and the Abid Ali Khan Transnational Criminal Organization in accordance with Executive Order 13581, “Blocking Property of Transnational Criminal Organizations.”

    The Abid Ali Khan TCO is a human smuggling organization based in Nowshera, Pakistan, that has facilitated the unlawful smuggling of foreign nationals, including foreign nationals who may pose a national security risk to the United States or its interests, into the United States using various travel routes through Latin America since at least 2015.

    OFAC also designated three other individuals and one entity associated with the Abid Ali Khan TCO.

    For identification information on the designated individuals and entities, see BankersOnline's OFAC Update.

    04/08/2021

    25 million payments in fourth EIP3 batch

    On Wednesday, the Treasury Department reported that more than 25 million payments were disbursed in the fourth batch of EIP3 payments, bringing the total disbursed so far to more than 156 million payments valued at about $372 billion. The fourth batch of payments began processing on Friday, April 2, with an official payment date of Wednesday, April 7, although some people received access to direct deposited payments earlier.

    The payments in the fourth batch went to Social Security (retirement, survivor or disability) recipients who didn't file a 2019 or 2020 tax return and didn't use the Non-Filers tool last year; to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries; and to Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) beneficiaries. Also included were more than a million "plus-up" payments, and another million payments to people for whom the IRS did not previously have information for issuing a payment, but recently filed a tax return, qualified for a payment, and provided the needed information.

    Approximately 85% of the EIP3 round of payments have been made by direct deposit, up from 74% of EIP1 payments and 77% of EIP2 payments. Over 3.1 million Direct Express cardholders have received EIP3 payments electronically, more than a half-million more than in previous rounds. Making most of these payments to Direct Express cards enables cardholders, many of whom are unbanked, to receive their Economic Impact Payment the same way they typically receive their federal benefits.

    Payments to non-tax-filing VA benefit recipients are scheduled to go out at the end of this week with an official payment date of Wednesday, April 14. The IRS "Get My Payment" tool should have VA beneficiary payment information available by April 10.

    Treasury's press release also noted that some federal benefits recipients may need to file a 2020 tax return by May 17, even if they don't usually file, to get EIP3 payments for a qualified dependent. Other non-filers, such as the homeless, rural poor and others, may also qualify for an EIP payment if they file a 2020 return, and may also be eligible for the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit.

    04/08/2021

    CFPB proposes delay of debt collection rules

    The CFPB announced on Wednesday a proposed rule that would delay by 60 days the effective dates of its two recent rules amending Regulation F under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The two rules are to become effective November 30, 2021. The proposal would postpone the effective date of those rules to January 29, 2022, to give affected parties more time to comply due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

    The first debt collection rule, issued in October 2020, focuses on the use of communications related to debt collection, and clarifies prohibitions on harassment and abuse, false or misleading representations, and unfair practices by debt collectors when collecting consumer debt.

    The second debt collection rule, issued in December 2020, clarifies disclosures debt collectors must provide to consumers at the beginning of collection communications. The rule also prohibits debt collectors from making threats to sue, or from suing, consumers on time-barred debt. The rule requires debt collectors to take specific steps to disclose the existence of a debt to consumers before reporting information about the debt to a consumer reporting agency.

    Comments on the proposal to delay the effective date to January 29, 2022, will be accepted for 30 days following its publication in the Federal Register.

    04/08/2021

    February Consumer Credit data posted

    The Federal Reserve has posted February 2021 G.19 Consumer Credit data. Consumer credit increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 7.9 percent. Revolving credit increased at an annual rate of 10.1 percent, while nonrevolving credit increased at an annual rate of 7.3 percent.

    04/08/2021

    March FOMC minutes posted

    The Federal Reserve Board has released the minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting held March 16–17, 2021.

    04/08/2021

    Vets business outreach center application deadline extended

    The SBA has announced that private organizations, colleges and universities, private sector firms, nonprofit organizations, and state, local or tribal governmental agencies in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Northern California, and Nevada have an extended deadline to apply for funding no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sunday, April 25, 2021. This grant opportunity assists with training and counseling to aspiring and existing veteran small business owners as a Veterans Business Outreach Center.

    The grant awardees will provide training to service members and military spouses through the Boots to Business entrepreneurship training program, which is part of the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program. Additionally, applicants will provide counseling, technical and financial skill development, comprehensive business assessments, and mentoring services to veterans, transitioning and active-duty service members, Reserve, National Guard, and military spouses interested in starting or growing a small business.

    04/08/2021

    Made in America Tax Plan Report released

    Treasury has released the Made in America Tax Plan Report to provide additional depth on the plan announced last week as a part of President Biden's American Jobs Plan, a comprehensive proposal aimed at increasing investment in infrastructure, the production of clean energy, the core economy, and other priorities.

    04/07/2021

    OFAC sanctions violent cartel members and facilitator

    On Tuesday, OFAC designated Carlos Andres Rivera Varela and Francisco Javier Gudino Haro, who are violent members of the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG). These two individuals have allegedly helped orchestrate assassinations using high-powered weaponry on behalf of CJNG, a Mexico-based organization that is responsible for trafficking a significant proportion of the fentanyl and other deadly drugs that enter the United States.

    Also today, OFAC designated travel agent Alejandro Chacon Miranda, who facilitates travel that is often related to illicit activities for senior CJNG members and their allies. Additionally, OFAC designated two businesses located in Mexico.

    For identification information on the three designated individuals and the two businesses, see BankersOnline's OFAC Update.

    04/07/2021

    HUD awards $36M+ in ROSS grant funds

    HUD has awarded $36.9 million to public housing authorities, public housing resident associations, Native American tribes, and nonprofit organizations across the nation. Grantees will use these Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency (ROSS) grant funds to hire and/or retain Service Coordinators to help public and Native American housing families meet their professional, financial, health, and educational goals. In so doing, ROSS Service Coordinators will help remove barriers so that residents can improve their economic mobility, health outcomes, and overall quality of life.

    04/07/2021

    CFPB issues consent order to debt collector

    The CFPB announced Tuesday it had issued a consent order against a debt collector and its owner for harassing consumers, falsely threatening them with legal action. The CFPB found that Yorba Capital Management, LLC (Yorba) and its former owner, Daniel Portilla, Jr., violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 (CFPA) and that Yorba violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The consent order permanently bans both Yorba and Portilla from the debt collection business, and orders restitution and penalties. Yorba and Portilla agreed to the order without admitting or denying any of the findings of fact, conclusions of law, or wrongdoing.

    The order calls for Yorba and Portilla to make consumer redress of $860,000, but that provision is suspended based on a purported inability to pay, except that any reimbursement or indemnification they receive, whether under an insurance policy, as a tax deduction or tax credit, or otherwise, must be transferred in full to the CFPB. The CFPB will use any such funds for consumer redress or will pay them to the U.S. Treasury. The order also requires Yorba and Portilla to pay a $2,200 civil money penalty.

    04/07/2021

    $689M for Housing Trust Fund from HUD

    HUD yesterday announced the allocation of $689,565,492.92 through the nation’s Housing Trust Fund (HTF) for affordable housing. The Housing Trust Fund is capitalized through the contributions made by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This year’s allocation is a significant increase in funding from last year’s allocation of $322,564,267.66. This program is specifically focused on housing for some of our most vulnerable populations. HUD annually allocates HTF funds by formula. A state must use at least 80 percent of each annual grant for rental housing; up to 10 percent for homeownership; and up to 10 percent for the grantee's reasonable administrative and planning costs. HTF funds may be used for the production or preservation of affordable housing through the acquisition, new construction, reconstruction, and/or rehabilitation of non-luxury housing with suitable amenities. All HTF-assisted units will be required to have a minimum affordability period of 30 years.

    04/07/2021

    COVID-19 as a stress test of regulatory framework

    The Federal Reserve Board has posted an article in its Finance and Economics Discussion Series (FEDS) that considers the economic damage caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The widespread economic damage caused by the pandemic poses the first major test of the bank regulatory reforms put in place following the global financial crisis. This study assesses this framework, with an emphasis on capital and liquidity requirements. Leading up to the COVID-19 crisis, banks were well-capitalized and held ample liquid assets, reflecting in part heightened requirements. Capital requirements were comparable across major jurisdictions, despite differences in the implementation of the international Basel standards. The overall robust capital and liquidity levels resulted in a resilient banking system, which maintained lending through the early stages of the pandemic. Furthermore, trading activity was a source of strength for banks, reflecting in part a prudent regulatory approach. Areas for potential improvement include addressing the cyclicality of requirements.

    04/07/2021

    SEC initiates emergency asset freeze

    The SEC announced yesterday it had obtained an asset freeze and other emergency relief in an emergency enforcement action against Los Angeles-based actor Zachary Horwitz and his company, 1inMM (one in a million) Capital, LLC in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme that raised over $690 million.

    Horwitz and 1inMM allegedly told investors that they were buying film rights, purportedly to resell them to Netflix and HBO; in fact, 1inMM actually had no business relationship with either company. According to the complaint filed by the SEC, Horwitz falsely claimed to have a track record of successfully selling movie rights to Netflix and HBO when, in fact, neither Horwitz nor 1inMM had ever sold any movie rights to, or done any business with, HBO or Netflix. Horwitz allegedly showed investors fabricated agreements and emails regarding the purported deals with HBO and Netflix. The complaint alleges that Horwitz and 1inMM promised investors returns in excess of 35%, and for many years paid supposed returns on earlier investments using funds from new investments. The complaint further alleges that Horwitz misappropriated investor funds for his personal use, including the purchase of his multi-million dollar home, trips to Las Vegas, and to pay a celebrity interior designer.

    04/06/2021

    Nacha Same Day ACH limit to grow again

    Nacha members have approved an increase in the Next Day ACH per-payment maximum from the current $100,000 to $1 million effective March 18, 2022. It will apply to all eligible Same Day ACH payments, including credits and debits for both businesses and consumers. Nacha's news release said the $1 million limit "will be beneficial for many types of payments, from insurance claim payments and payroll funding, to business-to-business and tax payments, and many more."

    04/06/2021

    $1.3 billion in IRS refunds unclaimed

    The IRS has posted a notice that unclaimed income tax refunds worth more than $1.3 billion await an estimated 1.3 million taxpayers who did not file a 2017 Form 1040 federal income tax return. "The IRS wants to help taxpayers who are due refunds but haven't filed their 2017 tax returns yet," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "Time is quickly running out for these taxpayers. There's only a three-year window to claim these refunds, and the window closes on May 17. We want to help people get these refunds, but they will need to quickly file a 2017 tax return." The IRS estimates half of the refunds are more than $865 and half are less.

    04/06/2021

    $5M for lead hazard reduction and weatherization

    HUD yesterday awarded $5 million in demonstration grants to five local government and non-profit organizations to help households with young children or seniors promote energy efficiency and healthy housing. The funding announced today promotes the coordinated delivery of services by local HUD-funded Lead Hazard Reduction and Weatherization Assistance Programs funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). This model will provide additional benefits to low-income households in the form of lower energy costs and a reduction in residential health and safety hazards.

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