The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on September 1 issued an order under Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act to temporarily—at least through the end of 2020—halt residential rental evictions for Americans struggling to pay rent due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The CDC states that the ban is necessary to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, a historic threat to public health, by preventing homelessness and facilitating stay-at-home/social distancing directives.
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) published guidance (Guidance) on customer due diligence requirements under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) for hemp-related customers on June 29. The Guidance, which recognizes hemp as defined under the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the 2018 Farm Bill), advises financial institutions on their BSA customer due diligence requirements for hemp customers. This Guidance supplements—but does not replace—the December 3, 2019 interagency statement on providing financial services to customers engaged in hemp-related businesses.
Notably, the Guidance allows financial institutions to confirm a hemp grower’s compliance with applicable legal requirements by obtaining an attestation from the grower that it is validly licensed, or by obtaining a copy of that license. Further due diligence above and beyond these core requirements may be needed, however, depending on the financial institution’s assessment of the level of risk posed by a particular hemp customer. Thus, financial institutions are expected to apply their risk-based customer due diligence policies and procedures to determine whether additional information about a particular hemp customer is required, and to obtain additional information as may be necessary, consistent with the risk profile of the customer.
We usually don’t blog about financial regulatory nonevents, but sometimes it is useful simply to point out when something is just that. Our “nonevent event” example of the day is the April 30 dismissal (read the accompanying order here) by the US District Court for the District of Columbia of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) lawsuit against the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), where the CSBS challenged the OCC’s authority to issue national bank nondepository fintech charters. The court dismissed the lawsuit in part for lack of “ripeness,” which is administrative lawspeak for “there’s nothing to challenge here.” Put simply, the OCC has not chartered any fintech banks and has not even issued final guidance on the chartering process, and the court therefore found itself without anything to review or decide. Administrative law aficionados therefore should not be at all surprised by that aspect of the court’s decision and reasoning. As the court trenchantly stated, “Indeed, there may ultimately be no case to decide at all if the OCC does not charter a Fintech.” A similar lawsuit against the OCC that was filed by the New York State Department of Financial Services was dismissed last year on similar grounds, and we surmised at that time that the CSBS suit might suffer the same procedural fate.
The US District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) has dismissed without prejudice the fintech charter lawsuit brought by New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) Superintendent Maria T. Vullo against the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). As we have previously reported, in March 2017, the OCC issued draft guidelines for a special purpose national bank charter for financial technology companies, often referred to as the “fintech charter.” The NYDFS filed a lawsuit in May 2017 challenging the OCC’s authority under the National Bank Act to grant special purpose national charters to fintech companies.
The OCC moved to dismiss the lawsuit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim, arguing that the NYDFS lacked standing, the claims were not ripe for decision, and the claim regarding the OCC special purpose national bank regulations was time-barred. Further, the OCC argued there had been no final agency action for the SDNY to review under the US Administrative Procedures Act.
On November 16, the US Senate confirmed by a 54–43 vote the appointment of President Donald Trump’s nominee Joseph Otting as the new Comptroller of the Currency. Mr. Otting will assume his new duties upon being sworn in, which is expected to occur at or near the end of November. Reportedly, current acting Comptroller Keith Noreika will return to the private sector.
Mr. Otting, who at one time in his career was chief executive officer of OneWest Bank Group, which acquired most of the business of the failed IndyMac Bank and which was headed by Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, is expected to support the administration’s efforts to move bank regulation and supervision in a more deregulatory direction. During his confirmation hearing, Mr. Otting drew strong criticism from Senate Democrats, mostly for his industry ties and the mortgage foreclosure activities of OneWest in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Mr. Otting’s prior public statements suggest that, as comptroller, he will focus on matters such as regulatory relief for community banks and regulatory and supervisory actions that would promote bank lending. He also has expressed support, however, for the overall bank regulatory framework, suggesting that he may adopt a more measured approach to changes in bank regulation and supervision.
The US Treasury Department released a report on October 6 titled “A Financial System That Creates Economic Opportunities: Capital Markets,” which recommends possible changes to several key regulatory restrictions on securitizations that were adopted in response to the financial crisis.
Possible changes would include loosening qualified asset requirements under risk retention rules, limiting asset-level disclosure under Reg. AB II, and rationalizing capital and liquidity requirements for securitized assets.
One of President Donald Trump’s early official acts in February 2017 was to sign an executive order stating a series of “Core Principles” for the regulation of the US financial system and directing the secretary of the Treasury to report, in consultation with the members of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, on the extent to which existing laws, regulations, and other regulatory requirements promote the Core Principles. In response to the executive order, the US Department of the Treasury has just released a wide-ranging report (Report) addressing many aspects of current US financial regulation and recommending changes to the current regulatory framework.