In the wake of Silvergate’s collapse, Silicon Valley Bank entering receivership and another bank following in SVB’s footsteps, startups and other companies directly affected by these events are struggling to manage their payroll and other obligations while credit facilities are frozen. Although depositors likely will be fully protected and most businesses can expect to avoid
Financial Institution Regulation
California Leads the Way on Commercial Lending Disclosures
In December 2022, California’s new commercial lending disclosure law and complementary regulations went into effect, leading the way for other states to follow.
The new California law imposes disclosure requirements in commercial lending transactions. While this is not new for consumer lenders that are accustomed to complying with the Truth in Lending Act, this is uncharted territory in the commercial lending space. Like the federal Truth in Lending Act, the new California law is meant to provide prospective borrowers with an opportunity to see a concise summary of the obligation’s terms in an easy-to-read format. Ideally, this allows a prospective borrower to take the terms offered by two or more lenders and compare them, side by side, to determine the best offer.…
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FinCEN Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Access to Beneficial Owner Information
On December 15, 2022, the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) issued a lengthy Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to implement beneficial ownership information (“BOI”) access and safeguards provision of the Corporate Transparency Act (“CTA”) (the “Access NPRM”). The Access NPRM provides a framework by which authorized recipients may access BOI, providing different tiers of access for agencies and financial institutions who may seek this information in connection with anti-money laundering efforts.…
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Federal Reserve Exercises Broad Disciplinary Authority to Sanction Former Bank Employees Who Committed PPP Loan Fraud
On October 13, 2022, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (“Board”) announced multiple enforcement actions against former employees of several financial institutions because the former employees made false statements to obtain economic injury disaster loans and grants from the U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) or paycheck protection loans from SBA-approved lenders. The loans and grants were made available to small businesses who were suffering from the impact of COVID-19 and needed emergency financial assistance authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (P.L. 116-136, the “CARES Act”). …
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Bank Regulators Remind Financial Institutions Not to Take a One-Size Fits All Approach to Assessing AML Risks from Customer Relationships
The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (collectively the “Agencies”) issued a Joint Statement on July 6, 2022, reminding banks of the “risk-based approach to assessing customer relationships and conducting customer due diligence (CDD).” The Joint Statement reminds banks that the Agencies consider a blanket approach of assessing customer risk, based solely on the type of customer (e.g., casino, auto dealer, etc.), to be inappropriate. Specifically, the Joint Statement urges financial institutions not to simply ascribe the same level of risk to all customers of a particular type. Rather, banks must use a risk-based approach that evaluates the specific customer at issue when creating customer profiles and when establishing and maintaining customer relationships. Further, the Joint Statement expresses a preference for enhanced monitoring rather than exiting customer relationships as part of de-risking.
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FinCEN Issues Statement on BSA Due Diligence for Independent ATM Owners and Operators
On June 22, 2022, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a Statement on Bank Secrecy Act Due Diligence for independent ATM owners and operators. The purpose of the statement is to “provide clarity to banks on how to apply a risk-based approach to conducting customer due diligence (CDD) on independent Automated Teller Machine (ATM) owners or operators, consistent with the requirements set out in FinCEN’s 2016 CDD Rule.”
Under FinCEN’s 2016 CDD Rule, banks are required to establish and maintain written policies and procedures reasonably designed to identify and verify “beneficial owners of legal entity customers.” This Rule extends to conducting CDD on independent ATM owners and operators who maintain bank accounts to supply cash for their ATMs and to settle the electronic funds transfers used to process ATM transactions.…
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FinCEN Proposes No-Action Letter Process
On June 3, 2022, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen) issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing public comment on the enactment of a no-action letter process. This Advanced Notice follows FinCen’s Report to Congress submitted in June 2021 that was based on FinCen’s consultation with the Attorney General, State bank supervisors, State credit union supervisors, and other Federal agencies and regulators. In its report, FinCen evaluated the difficulties it faces because of the overlap between its enforcement authority and other regulators. FinCen also examined the benefits and concerns on how a no-action letter process could affect illicit finance risks. FinCen stated that the primary benefits of a no-action letter process “are that it could promote a robust and productive dialogue with the public, spur innovation among financial institutions, and enhance the culture of compliance and transparency in the application and enforcement of BSA.” Ultimately, FinCen concluded that it should establish a rulemaking to create a no-action letter process.
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Is the Future of the Dollar Digital? The Fed Talks Updating Greenbacks to the Blockchain
On May 26, three days into her term as Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve, Lael Brainard testified about the Federal Reserve’s Examination of the Benefits and Risks of a U.S. Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) before the House Committee on Financial Services. Vice Chair Brainard’s comments reinforced many of the themes from the Fed’s January 2022 discussion paper , echoing the need for “clear regulatory guardrails to provide consumer and investor protection” in the rapidly developing digital assets markets while the Federal Reserve considers whether future conditions may give rise to the need for the United States to adopt a CBDC.
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Opportunity Financial’s Lawsuit Against California’s Financial-Services Regulator Signals Continued Fight Over “True Lender” Principles
Fintech lender Opportunity Financial (“OppFi”) and the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (“DFPI”), California’s financial-services regulator, filed dueling claims as they battle over state efforts to enjoin the company’s branded loans, which exceed California’s 36% interest-rate cap. This is the latest effort by fintech lenders to cement the True Lender Rule against state opposition.
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New York State Department of Financial Services Takes Aim at Blockchain Entities Circumventing Sanctions on Russia
Blockchain regulation continues to be the topic du jour, with increasing scrutiny from government agencies across the board. The latest comes from the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS), which has been a leader in the space since the 2015 “BitLicense” framework under the New York Financial Services Law. On April 28, 2022, new DFS Superintendent Adrienne A. Harris issued fresh guidance encouraging cryptocurrency companies to adopt blockchain analytics tools as a best practice.
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