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The US Supreme Court on June 29 ruled in Seila Law v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB’s) structure unconstitutionally insulates the agency from presidential oversight and must be altered.

The Dodd-Frank Act sculpted the now-stricken structure, including protective provisions for the independent regulatory agency’s sole director that were known to be novel in that they allowed the president to oust the unitary director, who is appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate for a five-year term, only “for cause” (more specifically for “inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance”), while the vast majority of presidential appointees serve at the president’s pleasure alone and thus may be terminated for any reason or no reason at all. Prior to the CFPB’s creation, such “for cause” removal provisions typically were associated with independent regulatory agencies governed by multimember boards or commissions, rather than by a single director. Following the decision, the president may remove the agency’s director “at will.”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) issued an interim final rule (IFR) on June 23, 2020 that temporarily permits mortgage servicers to offer to borrowers impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic certain loss mitigation options based on the evaluation of an incomplete loss mitigation application.

The US federal financial regulatory agencies with responsibility for implementing and enforcing Section 13 of the Bank Holding Company Act, commonly known as the Volcker Rule, have finalized amendments to the “covered fund” and “foreign excluded fund” provisions of the rule. The changes will be effective October 1, 2020. Among other things, these final amendments will:

(i)  permanently exempt qualifying foreign excluded funds from being treated as “banking entities” subject to the Volcker Rule proprietary trading and covered fund investment restrictions;

(ii)  establish certain limited exceptions to the “Super 23A” prohibitions, which will allow banking entities to enter into certain types of low-risk transactions with a sponsored or advised covered fund;

On June 18, 2020, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) issued a procedural rule to launch a new pilot advisory opinion (AO) program to publicly address regulatory uncertainty in the Bureau’s existing regulations. The pilot AO program will allow entities seeking to comply with regulatory requirements to submit a request where uncertainty exists, and the Bureau will then select topics based on the program’s priorities and make the responses available to the public. The Bureau states that it is establishing the pilot AO program in response to feedback received from external stakeholders encouraging the Bureau to provide written guidance in cases of regulatory uncertainty. For the pilot AO program, requestors will be limited to covered persons or service providers that are subject to the Bureau’s supervisory or enforcement authority.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced on June 17 that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the GSEs) are once again extending their moratorium on foreclosures and evictions until at least August 31, 2020. We had discussed the previous extension on the moratorium, which was set to expire on June 30, in a previous blog post. The foreclosure moratorium applies to GSE-backed, single-family mortgages only.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) issued a final rule on May 29 clarifying that when a national bank or national savings association sells, assigns, or otherwise transfers a loan, interest permissible before the transfer (the maximum rate permitted in the bank’s home state) continues to be permissible after the transfer. This marks one of the first acts of Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian P. Brooks, who assumed office that same day.

We think of our All Things FinReg blog to be global in nature, so when interesting regulatory developments occur somewhere in our blog footprint (namely, the planet), we try to highlight them, especially where they may have relevance beyond the jurisdiction or region where such developments occur. A recent action by the French competition authority (ADC) may be one such event.

Specifically, the ADC has launched a public consultation on the fintech sector in France, in particular with regard to payment services. The consultation focuses on the two types of new players in the payments space: (1) the role of big digital platforms and (2) the effect of smaller innovative payment service providers on competition in the financial services sector.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced on May 14 that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the GSEs) are extending their moratorium on foreclosures and evictions until at least June 30, 2020. We had discussed the original moratorium, which was set to expire on May 17, in a previous blog post. The foreclosure moratorium applies to GSE-backed, single-family mortgages only.

Separately, the day before, the FHFA announced a new payment deferral option for borrowers with a financial hardship that have been able to receive forbearance due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Specifically, such borrowers who are able to return to making their normal monthly mortgage payment will be provided the ability to repay their missed payments at the time the home is sold, refinanced, or upon loan maturity. The borrower's monthly mortgage payment will not change. Mortgages that exercise the payment deferral option will remain in GSE mortgage-backed securities (MBS), subject to the terms of the trust agreements. Mortgage servicers will begin offering the payment deferral repayment option starting July 1, 2020.

The virtual currency Bitcoin has been a hot topic in FinReg for some time, but in recent weeks mainstream interest in Bitcoin has grown in light of the approaching “halving” or “halvening.” So what is the “halvening” and why does it matter from a regulatory perspective?

What Is Bitcoin?

First, a bit of background. Bitcoin is based on technology known as “blockchain.” As it relates to Bitcoin, blockchain is a publically available ledger that provides a permanent record of Bitcoin transactions. Each “block” constitutes a series of transaction records, which builds on the block before it. Taken together, these blocks form a permanent “chain” showing the entire history of Bitcoin.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced on April 21 that servicers’ obligation to advance scheduled monthly payments for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) backed single-family mortgage loans in forbearance will be limited to four months. After the four-month period, the Enterprises will stand ready to take over advancing payments to investors in mortgage-backed securities (MBS).