On October 15, the New York Attorney General’s office announced a settlement with a large financial institution in connection with a 2012 data breach. Of the $850,000 settlement agreement, New York State will receive over $114,000. The terms of the settlement require that the bank reform its former security practices, which caused over one million customer files to be compromised. Specifically, in 2012, the bank lost over one million unencrypted files that contained personal information for over 200,000 customers nationwide. Going forward, the bank must (i) notify state residents of security breaches in a timely manner; and (ii) maintain security policies that will protect personal information.
On October 14, the ABA submitted a petition to the FCC requesting that it exercise its statutory authority to allow financial institutions to send consumers certain security and fraud alerts without the consumers’ prior consent. Specifically, the consumers would receive alerts regarding: (i) transactions suggesting a risk of identity theft or fraud; (ii) potential security breaches involving personal information; (iii) preventative steps consumers can take to decrease their chances of falling victim to security breaches, in addition to steps they can take to remedy harm already caused by a breach; and (iv) actions required to receive a receipt for money transfers. The petition notes that the most effective way to ensure that consumers receive these important messages is through automated texts and calls to mobile devices and accordingly requests that the FCC allow for an exemption to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act to ensure that customers receive security and fraud notifications in a timely manner.
On October 7, the CFPB and the FDIC announced a Spanish-language version of Money Smart for Older Adults, a free financial resource tool intended to prevent the elder financial exploitation that is affecting millions of senior citizens each year. The English-language version, which “includes practical information that can be put to use right away,” was jointly developed by the two agencies last year. The Spanish-language participant/resource guide and power point slides can be downloaded for free at the FDIC’s website, or can be ordered as hard copies on the CFPB’s website.
On October 8, the CFPB held a forum on consumers’ access to checking accounts. The event featured remarks from Director Cordray, as well as presentations from federal and local government officials, consumer groups, and industry representatives. Director Cordray noted the following three main issues of concern regarding the checking account application process, specifically in connection with the reports generated by specialty consumer reporting agencies and sold to banks and credit unions for use in determining whether to approve or reject a consumer for a checking account: (i) the accuracy of the information in the reports; (ii) the consumer’s ability to access the reports and dispute any inaccurate information; and (iii) the use of the reports to exclude consumers from basic financial services. According to Cordray, while credit reporting agencies are required to report accurate information, the “institutions vary in their abilities to conduct the careful investigations needed to differentiate between accountholders who perpetrate fraud versus those who are victims of fraud.” The Bureau plans to explore alternative procedures for screening consumers, hopeful that better data might enable a financial institution to make more nuanced decisions in account screening rather than simply reaching a “yes or no” result.
On October 3, the OCC appointed Kathy Murry to serve as its Senior Deputy Comptroller for Management and Chief Financial Officer. Ms. Murry had served as the Deputy Comptroller and the Chief Accountant since 2009, and has been serving as the agency’s acting Senior Deputy Comptroller for Management and Chief Financial Officer since June 2014. In her new role, Ms. Murry will serve on the OCC Executive Committee and oversee the OCC’s financial management, human resources, continuing education, information technology, security, workplace services, and performance improvement.
On October 8, the Federal Reserve Board announced the appointment of William English as an advisor to the Board for Monetary Policy in the Office of Board Members. Since July 2010, Mr. English has served as the director of the Board’s Division of Monetary Affairs and as secretary to the Federal Open Market Committee. Mr. English is expected to remain as secretary to the FOMC so that he can continue to contribute to the monetary policy process.
On October 2, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed a district court’s decision refusing to compel arbitration sought by a servicer in a dispute with a borrower over the terms of a loan agreement. Inetianbor v. Cashcall, Inc. No. 13-13822 (11th Cir. 2014). In Inetianbor, the plaintiff and the servicer had a dispute as to whether the borrower had satisfied his obligations under the terms of the loan agreement. When the borrower refused to pay amounts the servicer believed it was due, the servicer reported the purported default to the various credit agencies. The borrower sued the servicer who subsequently moved to compel arbitration under the terms of the loan agreement. The loan agreement’s forum selection clause required any dispute be resolved in arbitration by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Nation (the “Tribe”). The Tribe, however, declined to arbitrate the dispute. The district court allowed the suit to proceed in federal court on the grounds that the arbitral forum was not available to hear the dispute. On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s refusal to compel arbitration. The Eleventh Circuit held that the forum selection clause was integral to the loan’s arbitration provision. Because the arbitral forum was unavailable to hear the dispute, arbitration was not an option under the terms of the agreement and the district court was correct in refusing to compel arbitration.
On September 30, the Federal Reserve Board announced that it will begin a quantitative impact study (QIS) in order to better understand the potential effects of its revised regulatory capital framework. The study will focus on the effects on savings and loan holding companies, as well as nonbank financial companies that are supervised by the Federal Reserve and significantly engaged in insurance underwriting activity. In July 2013, the Federal Reserve finalized its revised regulatory capital framework in order to implement the Basel III capital rules for bank holding companies, certain savings and loan holding companies, and state member banks. In order to give the Federal Reserve time to adapt the capital rules for savings and loan holding companies substantially engaged in insurance underwriting activity, such entities were excluded from the 2013 framework. The QIS is being conducted in order to provide the Federal Reserve with a better understanding of how to design a capital framework for the insurance holding companies that is consistent with safety and sounds principles and the requirements of section 171 of Dodd-Frank (the Collins Amendment). The results of the QIS will allow the Federal Reserve to explore and address areas of concern raised by commenters during the proposal stage of the revised regulatory capital framework rulemaking. The Federal Reserve has contacted the insurance holding companies subject to its supervision and has requested their participation in the QIS. The requested information should be submitted by December 31, 2014.
On September 26, the OCC, the FDIC, and the Federal Reserve Board released a final rule that revises the calculation of total leverage exposure to make it more consistent with the January 2014 revisions to the international leverage ratio framework published by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. Like the proposed rule, the final rule directs the total leverage exposure calculation to include a bank’s on-balance-sheet assets (less tier 1 capital) and a potential future exposure amount calculated for each derivative contract. The final rule on total leverage exposure differs from the proposed rule in that it: (i) includes in the calculation the amount of cash collateral received for derivative contracts and the notional amount of each credit derivative for which the bank acts as the credit protection provider; (ii) adjusts the treatment of certain repo-style transactions; and (iii) allows the use of the credit conversion factors set forth in the 2013 revised capital rule to calculate some off-balance-sheet exposures. This rule does not apply to community banks. Total leverage exposure is the denominator for the supplementary leverage ratio calculation, which divides a bank’s tier 1 capital against its total leverage exposure. Banks must comply with the new supplementary ratio requirements by January 1, 2018, but they must calculate and publicly report their supplementary ratios beginning January 1, 2015.
On September 23, Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell spoke at the second annual Community Banking Research and Policy Conference, co-sponsored by the Federal Reserve and Conference of State Bank Supervisors. Governor Powell commented on the decline in the number of community banks over the past three decades, stating those remaining community banks have “struggled to survive” in the face of significant challenges, including the burden of regulatory compliance. The research presented at the conference focused on the following four main issues: (i) bank formation, behavior, and performance; (ii) the effects specific government policy has on community bank behavior; (iii) the effects government policy has on the profitability and viability of community banks; and (iv) how regulatory policy affects the structure of the U.S. banking system and the viability of community banks.
BuckleySandler hosted a webinar entitled “FinCEN’s Proposed Rule Amending Customer Due Diligence Obligations,” on September 18, 2014, as part of the ongoing FinCrimes Webinar Series. Panelists included James Cummans, Vice President of BSA/AML Operations at TCF Bank; Jacqueline Seeman, Managing Director and Global Head of KYC at Citigroup, Inc.; Sarah K. Runge, Director, Office of Strategic Policy at the U.S. Department of Treasury; and, Amy Davine Kim, Counsel at BuckleySandler LLP. The following is a summary of the guided conversation moderated by Jamie Parkinson, partner at BuckleySandler, and key take-aways to prepare for comments to the proposed rule and implementation of the new rule, once final, at your financial institution.
Key Tips and Take-Aways:
- Assess and prepare your organization’s financial and personnel resources to make sure that the appropriate resources are in place to comply with the proposed rule once it is finalized. Certain technical aspects of implementation may be complicated depending on the financial institutions’ existing processes.
- Boards of Directors should participate in and be informed of the process.
- Institutions that are exempt from the rule, including money services businesses (“MSBs”), should also consider how this rule would affect their operations. FinCEN has announced that this is an incremental rule making, meaning the rule could extend to additional entities in the future.
- Covered financial institutions should consider the implications and compliance issues associated with the proposed rule and actively engage in the comment period. It is clear that FinCEN took certain industry concerns into account from the earlier Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANPRM”), so any potential issues should again be raised.
On September 8, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware upheld a bylaw of a Delaware corporation that designated an exclusive forum other than Delaware for resolution of actions against the company and its directors. City of Providence v. First Citizens BancShares Inc., No. 9795-CB, 2014 WL 4409816 (Del. Ch. Sept. 8, 2014). The company adopted the forum selection bylaw on June 10, 2014, the same day it announced a merger agreement with a holding company incorporated and based in South Carolina. The clause states that any (i) derivative action or proceeding brought on behalf of the company, (ii) claim of breach of fiduciary duty brought against a director, officer, or other employee, (iii) action brought under the General Corporation Law of Delaware, and (iv) action brought under the internal affairs doctrine must be brought in the Eastern District of North Carolina (or, if that court does not have jurisdiction, any North Carolina state court with jurisdiction). The plaintiff challenged that provision as invalid under Delaware law and/or public policy. The court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, relying on analysis used in Boilermakers Local 154 Retirement Fund v. Chevron Corp., 73 A.3d 934 (Del Ch. 2013) (upholding a forum selection clause requiring litigation relating to internal affairs of a company take place in Delaware). The court held that the forum selection clause was facially valid, explaining that the fact that the forum selected was outside of Delaware did not raise any concerns about the clause’s validity, noting that North Carolina was the “second most obviously reasonable forum” because the company is headquartered there. Further, the court noted that the clause stated it was enforceable “to the fullest extent permitted by law,” meaning that any claims that may only be asserted in Delaware were not precluded by the bylaw. The court also rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the company’s board breached its fiduciary duties in adopting the bylaw in question and determined that the plaintiff had failed to demonstrate that it would be “unreasonable, unjust, or inequitable” to enforce the forum selection clause.
On September 12, the CFPB finalized a rule that allows it to supervise larger participants in the international money transfer market. In particular, this rule, which finalizes the proposed rule the CFPB issued in January 2014, allows the CFPB to supervise nonbank international money transfer providers that provide more than $1 million in international transfers annually, for compliance with the Remittance Rule under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act. The final rule will be effective December 1, 2014.
The CFPB will seek to ensure that these providers comply with a number of specific consumer-protection provisions, including the following:
- Disclosures: The CFPB will examine providers to determine that consumers receive the Remittance Rule-required disclosures in English as well as in any other language the provider uses to advertise, solicit, or market its services, or in any language in which the transaction was conducted. These disclosures inform consumers of the exchange rate, fees, the amount of money that will be delivered abroad, and the date the funds will be available.
- Option to Cancel: The CFPB will examine transfer providers to ensure that consumers receive at least thirty minutes to cancel the transfer if it has not yet been received, and that consumers receive a refund regardless of the reason for the cancellation.
- Correction of Errors: The CFPB will insist that remittance transfer providers properly investigate certain errors, and, if a consumer reports an error within 180 days, the CFPB will examine providers to determine that they have investigated and corrected certain types of errors. The CFPB will also examine providers to ensure that they are held accountable for the actions of any agents they use.
The CFPB used the authority granted to it in the Dodd-Frank Act to supervise “larger participants” in consumer financial markets, and this is the Bureau’s fourth larger participant rule. The CFPB indicates that it will use the same examination procedures for nonbank providers as it does for bank remittance providers, and the CFPB intends to coordinate with state examiners in its supervision.
The CFPB estimates that nonbank international money transfer providers transfer $50 billion each year, and 150 million individual international money transactions occur each year through these institutions, with seven million U.S. households transferring funds abroad each year through a nonbank.
On September 9, the Federal Reserve Board and the CFPB announced an increase in the dollar thresholds in Regulation Z and Regulation M for exempt consumer credit and lease transactions. Transactions at or below the thresholds are subject to the protections of the regulations. Based on the annual percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers as of June 1, 2014, TILA and Consumer Leasing Act generally will apply to consumer credit transactions and consumer leases of $54,600 or less beginning January 1, 2015—an increase of $1,100 from 2014. Private education loans and loans secured by real property, used or expected to be used as a principal dwelling, remain subject to TILA regardless of the amount of the loan.
On September 8, the OCC, the FDIC, and the Federal Reserve Board released proposed revisions to the Interagency Questions and Answers Regarding Community Reinvestment. Specifically, the agencies propose to revise three questions and answers that address alternative systems for delivering retail banking service and provide additional examples of innovative or flexible lending practices. In addition, the proposal would revise three questions and answers addressing community development-related issues and add four new questions and answers – two of which address community development services, and two of which provide general guidance on responsiveness and innovativeness. Comments on the proposal are due by November 10, 2014.