At the recent FDIC conference, “Fintech: A Bridge to Economic Inclusion,” FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams remarked that while the proportion of U.S. households that were banked in 2019 was 94.6 percent, 7 million households still reported no banking relationship.  She also noted that “the rates for Black and Hispanic households who do not have a checking or savings account at a bank remain substantially higher than the overall ‘unbanked’ rate.”  Referencing her personal challenges in establishing credit as a young immigrant to the United States 30 years ago, McWilliams discussed technology’s role in creating and facilitating a more inclusive financial system through the FDIC’s multi-pronged, novel approach to tackle the issue of financial inclusion, which includes:

Continue Reading FDIC Chairman Discusses FinTech and Bank Innovation

On June 29, the CFPB and the Georgia Attorney General’s Office settled with a debt-relief and credit-repair company and its owners for allegedly deceiving consumers into hiring the company to lower or eliminate credit-card debts and improve consumers’ credit scores.  The complaint alleges that the plaintiffs’ use of telemarketing and direct mail violated the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, the Consumer Financial Protection Act, and Georgia’s Fair Business Practices Act by, among other things, falsely claiming that:

Continue Reading CFPB and Georgia AG Settle With Debt-Relief Company

On June 29, NYDFS announced that two New York-charted banks engaging in indirect auto lending will pay civil money penalties for violating New York’s fair lending law for engaging in practices that resulted in members of protected classes paying higher interest rates that were not based on creditworthiness.  In particular, NYDFS asserts that the practice of allowing “dealer markup” in setting retail interest rates resulted in statistically significant differences in pricing, disadvantaging Hispanic and African-American consumers, with differences ranging from 20 to 59 basis points.

Continue Reading DFS Settles with Indirect Auto Lenders to Resolve Fair Lending Violations

On June 29, the CFPB released its summer 2021 Supervisory Highlights.  The findings of the report, which cover examinations that generally were completed between January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020, are issued to “help institutions and the general public better understand how the Bureau examines institutions for compliance with Federal consumer financial law.”

Continue Reading CFPB Issues Summer 2020 Supervisory Highlights

Distressed transactions in bankruptcy court have become big business. Sales under Section 363 of the bankruptcy code provide predictability and reliability (in the form of a court order delivering “free and clear” assets) under even the most turbulent of circumstances. Commonly known simply as “363 sales,” these transactions can provide an opportunistic purchaser with significant upside under the right circumstances. But the truly opportunistic buyer will need to buckle up and be prepared to move with lightning speed in a highly competitive and transparent forum.

Continue Reading Navigating Troubled Company Acquisitions in the Wake of COVID-19

On June 24, the U.S. House of Representatives passed S.J. Res. 15 by a vote of 218-208 to repeal the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s (OCC) “True Lender” rule under the Congressional Review Act (CRA).  The OCC published the rule last year to establish a “simple, bright-line test” to determine when a national bank or federal savings association is the true lender. Under the rule, a bank is the true lender and makes a loan if, as of the date of origination, it (i) is named as the lender in the loan agreement or (ii) funds the loan.  Further, the final rule amended the initial proposed rule and added that if, as of the date of origination, one bank is named as the lender in the loan agreement and another bank funds that loan, the bank that is named as the lender in the loan agreement is deemed to have made the loan.  The U.S. Senate passed S.J. Res. 15 last month by vote of 52-47 to invoke the CRA and provide for congressional disapproval and invalidation of the final rule. The repeal now heads to President Biden who is expected to sign it.

Continue Reading House Votes to Repeal OCC True Lender Rule

Though bankruptcy filings are down in 2021, the expiration of the Paycheck Protection Program and reopening of the courts nationwide could lead to a rise in bankruptcy filings with many businesses still struggling to cope with the economic and supply chain aftereffects of the pandemic and consumer purchasing habits.  These bankruptcies, in turn, will have an inevitable ripple effect on creditors and other claimants, whose abilities to collect on claims and exercise rights, are significantly restricted by the automatic stay.  Generally, the automatic stay requires a party seeking relief against a debtor to do so in, and only in, the bankruptcy court, which can provide the relief sought or grant permission to pursue claims and rights in another venue.  For many businesses, considerations regarding the automatic stay end there, believing so long as they were deliberate enough to seek relief in the bankruptcy court, they will not face the potentially harsh consequences of violating the automatic stay.  But, a recent decision in In re Roman Catholic Church of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe serves as the latest reminder that very rarely can one be too careful when seeking relief against a debtor, even in the bankruptcy court itself.

Continue Reading A Bankruptcy Conundrum: When You Must Seek Relief To Seek Relief

On June 15, the Senate swore in President Biden nominee Lina Khan as Chair of the FTC following confirmation by vote of 69-28.  Her current term on the Commission will expire on September 25, 2024.  Khan noted that she looks forward to working with her colleagues “to protect the public from corporate abuse.”  In her role as Chair, Khan replaces former Acting Chair, Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, who served in the role since January 2021.  Prior to becoming Chair of the Commission, Khan was an Associate Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. She also previously served as counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, legal adviser to FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra, and legal director at the Open Markets Institute.  Chopra, who is awaiting Senate confirmation as the Director of the CFPB, remarked in his official statement that the “overwhelming support in the Senate for Lina Khan’s nomination to serve on the [FTC] is a big win for fair competition in our country.  There is a growing consensus that the FTC must turn the page on the failed policies spanning multiple administrations.  Lina has an extraordinary record of achievement, and she will be instrumental in helping the Commission chart a new course grounded in rigor and reality.”

Continue Reading Lina Khan Sworn in as New FTC Chair

The United States Supreme Court ruled yesterday in Collins v. Yellin that a restriction on the President’s power to remove the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency at will is unconstitutional as a violation of the separation of powers doctrine. This decision did not come as a surprise, as the Court had ruled in Seila Law LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that a similar restriction on the President’s power to remove the director of the CFPB at will was unconstitutional.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Rules That Director Of Federal Housing Finance Agency Is Removable At Will; Calabria Fired

On June 16, the CFPB issued an interpretive rule reversing its prior determination that it lacked authority to examine institutions for compliance with the Military Lending Act (MLA).  In 2018, the CFPB discontinued checking for MLA compliance during supervisory examinations on the grounds that Congress had not authorized such examination authority under the Dodd-Frank Act.  As a result, the new interpretive rule sets forth the statutory basis to examine institutions that it supervises for MLA compliance as follows:
Continue Reading CFPB to Resume Examinations Under the Military Lending Act