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E.g., Sep 22 2019
E.g., Sep 22 2019

09/20/2019

Discount rate decreased

The Federal Reserve Board announced its approval yesterday of requests from the Boards of Directors of the Federal Reserve Banks of Boston, New York, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Kansas City, to decrease the discount rate (the primary credit rate) at the Banks from 2‑3/4 percent to 2-1/2 percent, effective immediately.

09/20/2019

OCC announces enforcement actions

The OCC has released a list of recent enforcement actions taken against individuals now or formerly affiliated with OCC-supervised institutions:

  • A Notice of Charges for an order of prohibition was issued against a former teller of PNC Bank, Wilmington, Delaware, who misappropriated cash from his teller drawer and a ATM, over both of which he had sole control. The Notice announces the OCC’s intention to issue the order of prohibition, subject to the respondent’s right to an administrative hearing of the OCC’s charges.
  • Removal and prohibition orders were issued to:
    • a former teller of The Huntington National Bank, Columbus, Ohio, whom the OCC found to have misappropriated a total of $11,000 in cash while clearing customer cash deposits from ATMs and falsified general ledger tickets to conceal the misconduct
    • a former loan officer of The City National Bank and Trust Company, Lawton, Oklahoma, whom the OCC found to have submitted false or misleading information related to eight loans totaling $7,081,446 from four financial institutions, causing those institutions to lose the total value of the loans. The former loan officer pled guilty to one count of fraud and one count of wire fraud and agreed to pay restitution of $7,081,446 to the four financial institutions.
    • a former phone banker of Wells Fargo Bank, National Association, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on the basis of activities while serving as a phone banker . The OCC found that the former banker provided bank customers’ credit card numbers to unauthorized individuals who fraudulently used the information, causing a loss to the bank of approximately $7,975.
    • a former branch associate of Capital One, National Association, McLean, Virginia. The OCC found that the former banker assigned temporary debit cards to two customers' accounts without their permission and withdrew a total of $22,606.50 at automated teller machines using the cards.

09/20/2019

Choice Neighborhoods planning grants awarded

HUD has announced that Choice Neighborhoods planning grants totaling $5,150,000 have been awarded to the communities in Alabama, Georgia, Nebraska, and New Jersey.

09/20/2019

Changes to FDIC post-exam survey process

In FIL-50-2019 the FDIC is notifying FDIC-supervised financial institutions that the Office of the Ombudsman, which is independent of the supervisory process, reports directly to the FDIC Chairman's office, and is a confidential resource for banks, is now administering the Post-Examination Survey process.

The Office of the Ombudsman will:

  • Assume responsibility for soliciting Survey responses effective October 1, 2019;
  • Send notice that the Survey will accompany the Report of Examination;
  • Provide a reminder to encourage participation in the Survey; and
  • Serve as the contact point for banks regarding the Survey and follow-up requests.

The FIL includes links to the current post-exam survey questions for the Safety and Soundness and the Compliance and CRA exams.

09/19/2019

FHFA ends MSR pilot program

The Federal Housing Finance Agency has announced the end of the Mortgage Servicing Rights (MSR) financing pilot program for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The MSR pilot began in 2018 to provide financing to non-bank servicers as they continue to account for a growing percentage of the overall servicing portfolio. While both Enterprises were approved for the MSR pilot, only Freddie Mac chose to participate.

09/19/2019

SEC emergency action stops $120M offering fraud

The SEC has filed an emergency action and obtained a temporary restraining order and asset freeze against three individuals and three entities in connection with an alleged fraudulent, ongoing international trading program that has placed at risk more than $125 million of investor funds. The complaint filed by the SEC contends that, beginning in March 2016, Mediatrix Capital Inc. and its three principals, Michael S. Young, Michael S. Stewart, and Bryant E. Sewall, induced investors to invest by falsely representing that their money would be invested using a highly profitable algorithmic trading strategy that had never experienced an unprofitable month and had returned more than 1,600% since inception. The complaint alleges the defendants' trading strategy consistently lost money—losing more than $18 million from its trading in 2018 alone. In addition to repeatedly misrepresenting the profitability of the trading, the complaint alleges defendants also misled investors by falsifying account statements and making Ponzi-like payments, all while misappropriating more than $35 million of investor money for defendants’ personal use, including to purchase luxury properties and vehicles.

09/19/2019

CFPB to enhance consumer complaint database

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has announced it will be adding enhancements to its Consumer Complaint Database:

  • modified disclaimers to provide better context to the published data
  • integrating financial information and resources into the complaint process to help address questions and better inform consumers before they submit a complaint
  • information to assist consumers who wish to contact the financial company to get answers to their specific questions

In addition the CFPB is making changes to its website to provide disclosures on the nature of complaints as well as resources to consumers, including:

  • more prominently displaying disclosures making it clear that the Consumer Complaint Database is not a statistical sample of consumers’ experiences in the marketplace;
  • highlighting the availability of answers to common financial questions for consumers to help inform them before they submit a complaint; and
  • highlighting consumers' ability to contact the financial company directly to get answers to their specific questions

09/19/2019

FOMC statement and projections

The Federal Reserve Board has issued a statement regarding the recent meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee: "Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in July indicates that the labor market remains strong and that economic activity has been rising at a moderate rate. Job gains have been solid, on average, in recent months, and the unemployment rate has remained low. Although household spending has been rising at a strong pace, business fixed investment and exports have weakened. On a 12-month basis, overall inflation and inflation for items other than food and energy are running below 2 percent. Market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low; survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations are little changed. ... Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. In light of the implications of global developments for the economic outlook as well as muted inflation pressures, the Committee decided to lower the target range for the federal funds rate to 1-3/4 to 2 percent."

Tables and charts summarizing the economic projections and the target federal funds rate projections were also released.

09/19/2019

FTC staff comments on CFPB proposed FDCPA rules

The Federal Trade Commission staff has submitted comments to the CFBP regarding proposed rules that implement the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Their comments included:

  • changes that would improve the types of information debt collectors are required to provide to people from whom they are attempting to collect and how, when, and where collectors are allowed to make contact with consumers
  • issues around debt that has passed the statute of limitations, the sale and transfer of debt, the collection of debts involving people who are deceased, and restrictions on the disclosure of information about debt to third parties

09/18/2019

August G.17 data

The Federal Reserve System has released August 2019 G.17 Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization data.

  • Industrial production rose 0.6 percent in August after declining 0.1 percent in July.
  • Manufacturing production increased 0.5 percent, more than reversing its decrease in July.
  • Factory output has increased 0.2 percent per month over the past four months after having decreased 0.5 percent per month during the first four months of the year.
  • The indexes for utilities and mining moved up 0.6 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.
  • Total industrial production was 0.4 percent higher in August than it was a year earlier.
  • Capacity utilization for the industrial sector increased 0.4 percentage point in August to 77.9 percent, a rate that is 1.9 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2018) average.

09/18/2019

July TIC data released

Treasury has released July 2019 Treasury International (TIC) data.

  • The sum total in July of all net foreign acquisitions of long-term securities, short-term U.S. securities, and banking flows was a net TIC inflow of $43.8 billion. Of this, net foreign private inflows were $59.8 billion, and net foreign official outflows were $16.0 billion.
  • Foreign residents increased their holdings of long-term U.S. securities in July; net purchases were $72.3 billion. Net purchases by private foreign investors were $83.8 billion, while net sales by foreign official institutions were $11.5 billion.
  • U.S. residents decreased their holdings of long-term foreign securities, with net sales of $12.0 billion.

09/18/2019

FDIC finalizes changes to capital rules

The FDIC has announced it has finalized a rule that introduces an optional simplified measure of capital adequacy for qualifying community banking organizations (i.e., the community bank leverage ratio (CBLR) framework), as required by the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act. The CBLR framework is designed to reduce burden by removing the requirements for calculating and reporting risk-based capital ratios for qualifying community banking organizations that opt into the framework. In order to qualify for the CBLR framework, a community banking organization must have a tier 1 leverage ratio of greater than 9 percent, less than $10 billion in total consolidated assets, and limited amounts of off-balance-sheet exposures and trading assets and liabilities. the CBLR framework will be available for banks to use in their March 31, 2020, Call Report.

The FDIC also finalized a rule that permits non-advanced approaches banking organizations to use the simpler regulatory capital requirements for mortgage-servicing assets, certain deferred tax assets arising from temporary differences, investments in the capital of unconsolidated financial institutions, and minority interest when measuring their tier 1 capital as of January 1, 2020. Banking organizations may use this new measure of tier 1 capital under the CBLR framework.

In addition, the FDIC finalized a rule that makes technical changes to incorporate the CBLR framework into the deposit insurance assessment system. A bank that uses the CBLR framework will not have any changes to how its assessment rate is calculated.

The agency also posted a Fact Sheet with an overview of the Community Bank Leverage Ration (CBLR) Framework.

09/18/2019

Raymond James pays $15M to settle SEC charges

The SEC has announced has issued a settled order against three Raymond James entities for improperly charging advisory fees on inactive retail client accounts and charging excess commissions for brokerage customer investments in certain unit investment trusts (UITs).

The order finds that Raymond James & Associates, Inc., and Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc., failed to consistently perform promised ongoing reviews of advisory accounts that had no trading activity for at least one year. According to the order, because they did not conduct the reviews properly, they failed to determine whether the client’s fee-based advisory account was suitable. The order further finds that the entities also misapplied the wrong pricing data to certain UIT positions held by advisory clients, causing them to overpay fees.

Under the order, the Raymond James entities will pay disgorgement of $11.1 million, prejudgment interest of $1.1 million and a civil money penalty of $3 million, for a total of $15.2 million.

09/18/2019

OFAC targets Alex Saab network in Venezuela

The Treasury Department announced yesterday that OFAC has designated three individuals and 16 entities for their connections to Alex Nain Saab Moran (Alex Saab) and his business partner, Alvaro Enrique Pulido Vargas (Alvaro Pulido), who have enabled former President Nicolás Maduro (Maduro) and his illegitimate regime to corruptly profit from imports of food aid and distribution in Venezuela. The individuals designated include Alex Saab’s two brothers, Amir Luis Saab Moran (Amir Saab) and Luis Alberto Saab Moran (Luis Saab), as well as Alvaro Pulido’s son, David Enrique Rubio Gonzalez (Rubio). The 16 entities designated are owned or controlled by the aforementioned individuals or Alex Saab himself.

As a result of these actions, all property and interests in property of the individuals and entities designated yesterday, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by those individuals or entities, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property of blocked or designated persons. For identity information on the designated individuals and entities, see BankersOnline's September 17, 2019, OFAC Update.

09/18/2019

Treasury proposes FIRRMA regs

The Treasury Department announced yesterday it has issued two proposed regulations to comprehensively implement the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018 (FIRRMA) and to better address national security concerns arising from certain investments and real estate transactions. The regulations strengthen and modernize the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an interagency committee authorized to review certain transactions involving foreign investment in the United to determine the effect of such transactions on the national security of the United States.

Comments on the proposed rules will be accepted through October 17, 2019. Treasury intends to issue final rules to take effect no later than February 13, 2020.

09/18/2019

SEC proposes update of bank disclosure rules

The SEC has announced that it has proposed rules to update the statistical disclosures that bank and savings and loan registrants provide to investors, and eliminate disclosures that overlap with Commission rules, U.S. GAAP or IFRS. The proposed rules would replace Industry Guide 3, Statistical Disclosure by Bank Holding Companies, with updated disclosure in a new subpart of Regulation S-K. The proposed rules would apply to bank holding companies, banks, savings and loan holding companies, and savings and loan associations. The proposed rules would require disclosure about:

  • Distribution of assets, liabilities and stockholders’ equity, the related interest income and expense, and interest rates and interest differential;
  • Weighted average yield of investments in debt securities by maturity;
  • Maturity analysis of the loan portfolio including the amounts that have predetermined interest rates and floating or adjustable interest rates;
  • An allocation of the allowance for credit losses and certain credit ratios; and
  • Information about bank deposits including amounts that are uninsured.

The proposal will have a 60-day public comment period following its publication in the Federal Register.

09/18/2019

CFPB seeking Tech Sprint opportunities

The CFPB has published in today's Federal Register a notice and request for information to identify opportunities to utilize Tech Sprints as a means to encourage regulatory innovation and collaborate with stakeholders in developing viable solutions to regulatory compliance challenges. Tech Sprints have been used successfully by the Financial Conduct Authority in the United Kingdom to gather regulators, technologists, financial institutions, and subject matter experts from key stakeholders for several days to work together to develop innovative solutions to clearly-identified challenges.

Tech Sprints have also been used by the U.S. Census Bureau, where tech companies, universities, government and communities together worked to translate U.S. government open data into useful digital products over the course of a 12-week sprint. At the end of the sprint, products launched and often moved on to full development as tools for the public.

Comments are due by November 8, 2019.

09/17/2019

Maryland insurer settles Kingpin Act violations claims

OFAC has announced that Atradius Trade Credit Insurance, Inc. of Hunt Valley, Maryland, a trade credit insurer licensed to operate in the state of Maryland and a subsidiary of Atradius N.V. ATCI, has agreed to remit $345,315 to settle its potential civil liability for two apparent violations of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Sanctions Regulations by dealing in property or interests in property of a specially designated narcotics trafficker.

09/17/2019

October 5 deadline for CDFI applications

The NCUA has posted a reminder notice that federally insured, low-income credit unions that want to become certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) have until October 5 to apply to use the NCUA’s qualification process for streamlined CDFI certification.

09/17/2019

Prudential subs charged with disclosure violations

The SEC has filed an Order charging two subsidiaries of Prudential Financial Inc. with failing to disclose conflicts of interest and making misleading disclosures to the boards for 94 funds they advised. Prudential affiliates AST Investment Services, Inc. (a Connecticut corporation) and PGIM Investments LLC (a New York limited liability company) self-reported their violations and cooperated with the SEC's investigation. Under the Order, ASTIS and PI were ordered to cease and desist from further violations, and censured. They were also ordered jointly and severally to pay disgorgement of $27.6 million and a civil money penalty of $5 million.

09/17/2019

FinCEN makes CTR FAQ change (updated)

Thanks to a post in BankersOnline's BSA/AML/CIP/OFAC discussion forum by one of our newest users, we've learned that FinCEN has updated its FAQ document on CTR filing to change the answer to Question 16 concerning transactions in which the conductor has more than one role. The change was made without public announcement, although there may have been a notice behind FinCEN's e-filing login wall..

Current instructions for the CTR indicate that when a conductor completes a currency transaction on the conductor's own behalf and on behalf of another person (e.g.,a business owner depositing a reportable amount of cash to a personal account and to an entity business account), the reporter completes one Part I for the conductor and checks the first "role" in item 2 that applies, starting at the left. That would be check box 2a, indicating a transaction conducted on behalf of oneself. The total amount is reported in that Part I entry.

Apparently, FinCEN would like such a CTR completed differently. Question 16 in the FAQ now says that there should be two Part I entries for the conductor -- one with item 2a checked for the transaction "completed on own behalf" (the deposit to the personal account) and the other with item 2b checked to report the part of the transaction conducted on behalf of another (the business). And of course, there is still the Part I entry for the business with item 2c checked (person on which behalf transaction was conducted).

The discussion thread indicates FinCEN's Help Line says the change won't be enforced until the instructions are updated and more formal guidance provided. FinCEN should also review its response to FAQ question 22 before finalizing those instructions and guidance. But, of course, none of this comes straight from FinCEN.

UPDATE (9/18/2019): We've learned (and verified) that FinCEN has restored the answer to Question 16 in the FAQ to conform to the instructions on the current version of the CTR.

09/17/2019

Reminder on use of appraisal management companies

The OCC has issued Bulletin 2019-43 to remind banks that engage appraisal management companies (AMCs) of the new registration requirement for AMCs that became effective on August 10, 2019. Under this requirement, AMCs must register with the state or states in which they do business and must be subject to state supervision. Federal law bars AMCs from providing appraisal management services to financial institutions for consumer credit transactions secured by a consumer’s principal dwelling that are federally related transactions if the AMCs are not registered as required. The bulletin discusses considerations for banks with regard to confirming AMC registration as part of sound third-party risk management and suggests alternatives that banks can use when no registered AMCs are available.

The OCC's rules on banks' use of AMCs can be found in 12 CFR 34, subpart H. The same requirements are included in the Federal Reserve Board's Regulation H, subpart E, and the FDIC's requirements are found in 12 CFR 323 subpart B.

09/17/2019

Housing professionals face discrimination charges

HUD has announced it is charging housing professionals based in New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia with discrimination for failing to design and construct the 40-unit North8 Condominium development in Brooklyn, New York, in accordance with the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act requires that multifamily housing built after March 1991 contain accessible features for persons with disabilities. This includes accessible common areas, bathrooms and kitchens, as well as wider doors and environmental controls that can be reached by residents who use wheelchairs. According to the charge, North8 Condominium lacks accessible routes and entrances into and through the common areas and units with accessible kitchens and accessible bathrooms.

09/16/2019

Agenda for next NCUA Board meeting

The NCUA has published [84 FR 48649] the agenda for its next open Board of Directors meeting, to be held beginning at 10 a.m. ET on September 19. Matters to be considered include:

  • the Share Insurance Fund quarterly report
  • NCUA regulations on—
    • Supervisor Committee Audits
    • Federal Credit Union Bylaws
    • Payday Alternative Loans II

09/16/2019

FinCEN requests info on Dorian-related report delays

FinCEN has requested financial institutions affected by Hurricane Dorian to contact FinCEN and their functional regulator as soon as practicable to discuss any delays in their ability to file required Bank Secrecy Act reports. Institutions seeking to contact FinCEN should call the FinCEN Resource Center at 1-800-949-2732 and select option 8 or send e-mail to FRC@fincen.gov. FinCEN also reminded financial institutions to review its Advisory to Financial Institutions Regarding Disaster-Related Fraud due to the potential for fraudulent transactions.

09/16/2019

OFAC targets N Korean cyber hackers and Ugandan top cop

The Treasury Department issued two news releases on Friday concerning OFAC actions. OFAC designated three North Korean state-sponsored malicious cyber groups responsible for North Korea’s malign cyber activity on critical infrastructure to support illicit weapon and missile programs. This activity included tactics such as cyber espionage, data theft, monetary heists, and destructive malware operations targeting government, military, financial, manufacturing, publishing, media, entertainment, and international shipping companies, as well as critical infrastructure.

OFAC also sanctioned the former Inspector General of Police of the Ugandan Police Force, Kale Kayihura, pursuant to Executive Order 13818, for having engaged in serious human rights abuse against Ugandan citizens, as well as for his involvement in corruption.

For identification information on the entities and individual designated by these actions, see BankersOnline's OFAC Update.

09/16/2019

FDIC annual summary of deposits results

The FDIC has released results of its annual survey of branch office deposits for all FDIC-insured institutions as of June 30, 2019. The Summary of Deposits includes historical data going back to 1994 that can be analyzed using online reports, tables, and downloads. SOD users can locate bank offices in a particular geographic area and create custom market share reports for areas such as state, county, and metropolitan statistical area. Market share reports have been expanded to allow users to see market growth and market presence for specific institutions.

09/16/2019

IRS regs on 100% business depreciation

The Treasury Department has announced the IRS's release of final regulations and additional proposed regulations on the new 100% additional first year depreciation deduction that allows businesses to write off most depreciable business assets in the year they are placed in service by the business.

09/16/2019

Fannie and Freddie multifamily loan caps revised

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has announced a revised cap structure on the multifamily business of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises). The new multifamily loan purchase caps will be $100 billion for each Enterprise, a combined total of $200 billion in support to the multifamily market, for the five-quarter period Q4 2019 – Q4 2020. The new caps apply to all multifamily business – no exclusions.

A Fact Sheet and Revised Appendix A (Conservatorship Scorecard) were also posted.

09/16/2019

$1.9 million in grants to low income CUs

The National Credit Union Administration has announced the award of $1.9 million in grants to 155 low-income credit unions located in 40 states and the District of Columbia.

09/16/2019

Fed Board to hold closed meeting on monetary policy

The Federal Reserve Board has posted a notice it will hold a closed meeting on September 17, 2019, to discuss Monetary Policy issues. A final announcement of matters considered will be available in the Board's Freedom of Information and Public Affairs Offices and on the Board's website following the closed meeting.

09/13/2019

FTC charges operators of student loan debt relief schemes

The Federal Trade Commission announced yesterday it has charged the operators of two similar student loan debt relief schemes, and a financing company that assisted them, with bilking millions of dollars from consumers. The defendants allegedly charged illegal upfront fees that they led consumers to believe went toward consumers’ student loans, and falsely promised that their services would permanently lower or even eliminate consumers’ loan payments or balances. The defendants also signed customers up for high-interest loans to pay the fees without making required disclosures.

Complaints against:

09/13/2019

FDIC State Profiles posted

The FDIC has posted the Second Quarter 2019 FDIC State Profiles, quarterly summaries of banking and economic conditions in each state.

09/13/2019

Georgia landlords face discrimination charges

HUD has announced it is charging a couple that owns an apartment building in Richmond Hill, Georgia, with violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to rent to, imposing different rental terms and conditions on, and making discriminatory statements about families with children.

09/12/2019

NCUA quarterly map review of CU data

The NCUA has posted its Quarterly U.S. Map Review for the Second Quarter 2019, which indicates federally insured credit unions generally saw continued positive trends. Eighty-eight percent of federally insured credit unions reported positive net income at the end of the second quarter. Median annual loan growth in the year ending in the second quarter was 4.6 percent, and median annual asset growth was 1.7 percent.

09/12/2019

Single-family rental discrimination claim settled

HUD has announced the owners and managers of a single-family rental home in Nampa, Idaho, will pay $15,000 under a Consent Order resolving allegations that they violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to rent the large home to a married couple because they have more than four children.

09/12/2019

NCUA board member wants stronger consumer compliance focus

In a speech delivered at a Women in Housing and Finance policy lunch, NCUA board member Todd Harper said that "NCUA's current method for examining and enforcing consumer financial protection laws and regulations in credit unions with less than $10 billion in assets that it supervises is not comparable to our sister agencies," and that "NCUA's different approach to consumer financial protection reviews runs counter to the congressionally mandated mission of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, which works to 'prescribe uniform principles, standards, and report forms' across all types of financial institutions." He said that the NCUA should "evolve its approach to consumer financial protection [and] increase guidance to the credit union system to improve compliance with consumer financial protection laws."

09/11/2019

FDIC updates manuals

The FDIC has released the September 2019 updates to its Risk Management Manual of Examination Policies. Section 3.2 (Loans) has been updated with revised loan evaluation instructions, technical updates for accounting, appraisal thresholds, syndicated lending instructions, and various technical edits to update terminology.

The FDIC also announced the September updates to its Compliance Examination Manual. Section IV-3.1 (Fair Lending Scope and Conclusions Memorandum) was revised to reflect changes to pre-examination interview questions and information requests made during the examination planning proceess, and Section V-6.1 (Flood Disaster Protection) was updated to incorporate the private flood insurance final rule’s provisions pertaining to the mandatory and discretionary acceptance of private flood insurance by financial institutions, the qualification process and acceptance of mutual aid society plans in satisfaction of the flood insurance purchase requirement; and minor technical changes.

09/11/2019

CFPB issues innovation policies

The CFPB has issued three new policies to promote innovation and facilitate compliance: the No-Action Letter (NAL) Policy, Trial Disclosure Program (TDP) Policy, and Compliance Assistance Sandbox (CAS) Policy.

No-action letters provide increased regulatory certainty through a statement that the Bureau will not bring a supervisory or enforcement action against a company for providing a product or service under certain facts and circumstances. The Bureau has issued its first NAL under the new NAL Policy in response to a request by HUD on behalf of more than 1,600 housing counseling agencies (HCAs) that participate in HUD’s housing counseling program. The no-action letter essentially states that the Bureau will not take supervisory or enforcement action under RESPA against HUD-certified HCAs that have entered into certain fee-for-service arrangements with lenders for pre-purchasing of housing counseling services. The Bureau also released a No-Action Letter Template for mortgage lenders to apply for a NAL for any HUD-required MOU between the mortgage lender and a participating counseling agency under a Housing Counseling Funding Agreement.

Under the new TDP Policy, entities seeking to improve consumer disclosures may conduct in-market testing of alternative disclosures for a limited time upon permission by the Bureau.

The CAS Policy enables testing of a financial product or service where there is regulatory uncertainty. After the Bureau evaluates the product or service for compliance with relevant law, an approved applicant that complies in good faith with the terms of the approval will have a “safe harbor” from liability for specified conduct during the testing period. Approvals under the CAS Policy will provide protection from liability under the Truth in Lending Act, the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, or the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

UPDATE: The policies were published in the Federal Register 9/13/2019:
NAL policy: 84 FR 48229
TDP policy: 84 FR 48260
CAS policy: 84 FR 48246

09/11/2019

Enhanced counterterrorism sanctions authority exercised

Treasury has announced that OFAC used newly enhanced counterterrorism sanctions authorities on Tuesday to designate a series of terrorist leaders, facilitators, and entities. Equipped with new tools from recently updated Executive Order 13224, Treasury designated 15 leaders, individuals, and entities affiliated with terror groups. That action targets a wide array of groups, including entities affiliated with HAMAS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), al-Qa’ida, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods-Force (IRGC-QF), and combined with actions taken by the State Department amounts to some of the furthest reaching designations of terrorists and their supporters in the past 15 years.

The amended Executive Order provides the Treasury and State Departments new tools allowing the U.S. to better identify and designate terrorists worldwide. The order now:

  • Contains new designation criteria that allows the U.S. Government to more efficiently target leaders or officials of terrorists groups as well as individuals who participate in terrorist training;
  • Provides for secondary sanctions against foreign financial institutions that have knowingly conducted or facilitated significant financial transactions on behalf of any person sanctioned pursuant to E.O. 13224;
  • Authorizes Treasury to prohibit a foreign financial institution that has knowingly conducted or facilitated a significant transaction with any Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) from opening or maintaining a correspondent or payable-through account in the United States;
  • Consolidates U.S. counterterrorism authorities under a single sanctions program by eliminating E.O. 12947 and combining that authority’s goal of defending the Middle East Peace Process with E.O. 13224’s global remit and expanded authorities.

For further information on the new Executive Order, OFAC's designations of individuals and entities, and changes to existing SDN listings, see BankersOnline's OFAC Update.

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