OCC Revises CRA Guidance

On July 15, the OCC, the FDIC, and the Federal Reserve released final revisions to the Interagency Questions and Answers Regarding Community Reinvestment document. The revised Questions and Answers document is based on a September 10, 2014 proposal and addresses questions from bankers, community organizations, and others pertaining to: (i) innovative or flexible lending practices; (ii) responsiveness and innovativeness of an institution’s loans, qualified investments, and community development services; (iii) availability and effectiveness of retail banking services; and (iv) community development-related issues, such as economic development, community development loans and activities, and community development services. According to the Questions and Answers document, the agencies did not adopt one of the revisions in the September 2014 proposal that had addressed “the availability and effectiveness of retail banking services.”

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FSOC Rescinds Nonbank Financial Company’s “Too-Big-to-Fail” Designation

On June 29, the Financial Stability Oversight Counsel (FSOC) announced that it rescinded its July 2013 “systemically important” designation of a Connecticut-based financial company. FSOC’s July 2013 designation subjected the company to supervision by the Federal Reserve and enhanced prudential standards. According to FSOC, the company posed a threat to U.S. financial stability due to its standing as one of the largest – ranked by assets – financial services companies in the U.S. At the time of its designation, the company also acted as a significant source of credit to the U.S. economy by providing financing to more than 243,000 commercial customers, 201,000 small businesses through retail programs, and 57 million consumers in the U.S. On June 28, FSOC unanimously voted to rescind its designation, stating that the company had “fundamentally changed its business” by, among other things: (i) decreasing its total assets by more than 50 percent; (ii) moving away from short-term funding; (iii) reducing connections with large financial institutions; (iv) no longer owning any U.S. depository institutions; and (v) no longer providing financing to U.S. consumers or small businesses in the U.S. FSOC also noted that, “[t]hrough a series of divestitures, a transformation of its funding model, and a corporate reorganization, the company has become a much less significant participant in financial markets and the economy.” Treasury Secretary Lew commented that the FSOC’s decision demonstrates a two-way designation process: “The Council follows the facts: When it identifies a company that could threaten financial stability, it acts; when those risks change, the Council also acts.”

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Federal Reserve Issues Cease and Desist Order over Bank’s Deposit-Gathering Practice

On June 13, the Federal Reserve issued a cease and desist order to a California-based savings and loan holding company and its wholly-owned, Indiana-based federal savings bank subsidiary. According to the Federal Reserve, between January 8, 2008 and March 5, 2010, the federal savings bank operated a deposit-gathering program (Program) pursuant to which it placed customer funds into deposit accounts at unaffiliated banks (Participating Banks) that had different maturities and different interest rates than those selected by customers under the Program. The Federal Reserve contends that the bank’s deposit-gathering practice was unsafe and unsound, and that the bank “was subject to liquidity risk because customers may have demanded the return of many or all of their deposits before the maturity dates negotiated by [the bank] with the Participating Banks, and/or [the bank] obtained less in interest from deposits at Participating Banks than it owed to customers for the deposit accounts they had selected.” Pursuant to the Federal Reserve’s cease and desist order, the savings and loan holding company and the federal savings bank must: (i) receive written approval from, and (ii) submit a business plan to the Federal Reserve (or the appropriate federal banking agency) prior to engaging in any deposit-gathering program.

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FFIEC Issues Cybersecurity Statement, Comments on Recent Attacks on Interbank Messaging and Payment Networks

On June 7, the FFIEC issued a statement on behalf of its members (the OCC, Federal Reserve, FDIC, NCUA, CFPB, and State Liaison Committee) advising financial institutions to “actively manage the risks associated with interbank messaging and wholesale payment networks.” According to the statement, recent cyber attacks against interbank networks and wholesale payment systems have demonstrated the ability to: (i) bypass information security controls and compromise a financial institution’s wholesale payment origination environment; (ii) “obtain and use valid operator credentials with the authority to create, approve, and submit messages”; (iii) make use of sophisticated understanding of funds transfer operations and operational controls; (iv) disable security logging and reporting by using highly customized malware, as well as conceal and delay detection of fraudulent transactions with the use of other operational controls; and (v) quickly transfer stolen funds across multiple jurisdictions. Read more…

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CFPB, Federal Banking Agencies, and NCUA Issue Interagency Guidance Regarding Deposit Reconciliation Practices

On May 18, the CFPB, the Federal Reserve, the OCC, the FDIC, and the NCUA issued interagency guidance on supervisory expectations regarding customer account deposit reconciliation practices. According to the guidance, banks create a “credit discrepancy” if they credit a customer a different amount than the total of the items the customer tried to deposit into an account. In further explaining what constitutes a credit discrepancy, the guidance states, “the customer may deposit $110 to an account, but may indicate on the deposit slip that only $100 has been tendered. In this case, the financial institution may credit $100 to the customer’s account as indicated on the deposit slip without reconciling the $10 discrepancy.” According to the guidance, some financial institutions fail to correct the inconsistencies between the dollar value of items deposited to the customer’s account and the amount actually credited to that same account. This is a potential violation of (i) the Expedited Funds Availability Act’s, as implemented by Regulation CC, requirement to make deposited funds available for withdrawal within prescribed time limits; (ii) the FTC Act’s ban of unfair or deceptive acts or practices; and (iii) the Dodd-Frank Act’s prohibition of unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices. In addition to reminding financial institutions of their obligations to comply with the aforementioned applicable laws, the guidance stresses that financial institutions are expected to “adopt deposit reconciliation policies and practices that are designed to avoid or reconcile discrepancies, or designed to resolve discrepancies such that customers are not disadvantaged.”

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