On January 17, the OCC launched the first phase of its Central Application Tracking System (CATS), a new web-based system for banks to file licensing and public welfare investment applications and notices. CATS provides a secure, electronic system through which authorized national banks, federal savings associations, federal branches, and banking agencies may draft, submit, and track their licensing and public welfare investment applications and notices. CATS will replace the existing e-Corp and CD-1 Invest application tools. As explained in OCC Bulletin 2016-37, the new program is being launched in three phases to help banks transition from the existing tools. The second and third phases of the CATS rollout are scheduled to begin in the spring of 2017. When ready, CATS will be accessible through BankNet, the secure portal for OCC-regulated banks.
On January 17, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), announced subcommittee assignments for the 115th Congress. The Senators named to head each subcommittee are listed below:
- Dean Heller of Nevada will be the new chairman of the Securities, Insurance and Investment subcommittee. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia will continue to serve as ranking member.
- Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania will remain chairman of the Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection subcommittee. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts will be the new ranking member.
- Tom Cotton of Arkansas will become chairman of the Economic Policy subcommittee. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota will be the new ranking member.
- Ben Sasse of Nebraska will chair the National Security and International Trade and Finance subcommittee. Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana will serve as ranking member.
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina will continue to chair the Housing, Transportation and Community Development subcommittee. Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey will remain ranking member.
On December 20, the OCC announced the publication of its final rule implementing a framework for receiverships of national banks that are not insured, and thus not subject to receivership, by the FDIC under the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (“FDIA”). As discussed in a previous InfoBytes post, the OCC has not historically appointed a receiver for uninsured banks, opting instead to rehabilitate or resolve such institutions without a receiver. This OCC final rule—which goes into effect on January 19, 2017—reflects the OCC’s current belief that establishing and clarifying a receivership framework for uninsured banks “will be beneficial to financial market participants and the broader community of regulators.”
Among other things, the rule seeks to provide clarity to market participants with respect to the following key issues: (i) when and how a receiver for uninsured bank may be appointed; (ii) the powers held by the receiver of an uninsured bank; (iii) the two methods through which parties holding claims against an uninsured depository institution can seek approval of those claims; (iii) the order of payment for administrative expenses and claims against an uninsured bank; and (iv) the treatment of fiduciary or custodial assets. Notably, the OCC did not explicitly address whether the new rule will also apply to FinTech companies should they obtain a special purpose national bank charter as proposed recently by the OCC.
On January 17, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities, Robin L. Wiessmann, submitted a comment letter calling upon the OCC to give “more thoughtful deliberation about the intended and unintended consequences that will result from such an apparent departure from the OCC’s current policy and scope of supervision.” Specifically, Wiessman requested that the federal bank regulator address three concerns regarding: (i) the broad application and ambiguity of the term “fintech”; (ii) the need by the OCC to have an adequate regulatory scheme in place before approving charters; and (iii) the possible federal preemption of existing state consumer protection laws. The Secretary’s letter echoes many of the concerns raised in a recent comment letter submitted by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) “reiterating its opposition to the [OCC] proposal to issue a special charter for fintech companies.”
OFAC Settles with Canadian Bank for Apparent Violations of Cuban Assets Control Regulations and Iran Sanctions
On January 13, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) announced a $516,105 settlement agreement with a Canadian-based bank and its online-brokerage subsidiaries in connection with accounts held and transactions processed on behalf of certain Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons located in Cuba, Iran and other locations in the Middle East. OFAC also identified general “shortcomings in the bank’s OFAC compliance policies, procedures, and programs” including the bank’s failure to screen for any potential nexus to an OFAC-sanctioned country or entity prior to processing related transactions through the U.S. financial system and occurring due to shortcomings in the banks policies and procedures. The settlement agreement does, however, note that the Apparent Violations constituted a non-egregious case, that the Bank voluntarily self-disclosed the Apparent Violations, and that the applicable total base penalty amount for the apparent violations was $955,750—well above the $516,105 amount OFAC assessed.
Notably, in the agreement’s concluding paragraph, OFAC highlights, as a general matter, the risks associated with both “subsidiaries in high-risk industries–such as securities firms” and, in particular “online payment platforms when the financial institution is unable to restrict access for individuals and entities located in comprehensively sanctioned countries.”