UPDATE June 8:
The House of Representative approved the Financial CHOICE Act, with a vote largely on party lines of 233 to 186.  While the Senate Banking Committee is and has been considering financial reform proposals, it is unlikely that the Financial CHOICE Act as passed by the House will progress in the Senate.

UPDATE June 7:
As expected, House Rules Committee approved a rule on June 6 allowing 90 minutes of general debate that will permit the Republicans to offer 6 amends. Floor consideration expected to start this afternoon or first thing tomorrow morning.

The House Rules Committee has scheduled a meeting on the CHOICE Act for 5:00 PM Tuesday, June 6, to consider the amendments that have been submitted as well as a rule for floor consideration. It is expected that the Committee will issue a rule to bring the bill to the House floor on Wednesday, and that rule is likely to provide for debate and floor consideration of amendments.

There is some speculation that Democratic members may withdraw their amendments in a show of opposition to the bill, similar to their decision last Congress not to participate in the Committee mark-up.  We understand that the Majority Whip, Rep. McCarthy (R-CA), has placed the bill on the calendar for Wednesday, June 7th, subject to the Rules Committee completing its work. Depending on the final number of amendments to be considered (if any), and the time provided for debate, it is possible that the bill could pass as early as Wednesday evening.

*John Mirvish is not admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia.

The long awaited en banc oral argument in the PHH v. CFPB appeal was heard this morning.  Based upon the questions asked by the judges, and with the caveat that such questioning is not always an indicator of how a court will rule, it seems likely that the D.C. Circuit will not find the CFPB to be unconstitutionally structured.  While Judge Kavanaugh, author of the roughly 100-page 3-judge panel decision last October, tried mightily to defend his position that a single director removable only for cause thwarts the President’s Article II authority, most of the judges did not seem to share his views.  Some judges, like Judge Griffith, implied that the Court was bound by the Supreme Court’s decision in Humphrey’s Executor v. United States, which upheld the constitutionality of removal-for-cause provisions as pertains to the multi-member Federal Trade Commission.  Other judges appeared to believe there was sufficient accountability for the CFPB Director because he or she can be removed for cause.  Judge Pillard defended the independence of financial regulatory agencies such as the CFPB.  On the whole, fewer judges seemed inclined to declare the for-cause provisions unconstitutional than to keep the status quo.

Notably, only about 60 seconds of the 90 minute oral argument addressed RESPA concerns, in particular Section 8(c)(2).  The judges’ RESPA-related questions concerned whether the industry had notice that RESPA prohibited the conduct in question (which had been blessed by a 1997 Letter from HUD permitting captive reinsurance if the Section 8(c)(2) safe harbor provisions were met) and whether the CFPB was bound by RESPA’s 3-year statute of limitations.  Questions about both issues were directed to CFPB counsel.  He stated that the statute itself provided ample notice of its prohibitions in Sections 8(a) and 8(c)(2). He also said the Bureau was bound by the generally-applicable 5-year statute of limitations at least insofar as penalties are concerned, but he did not concede the Bureau was otherwise bound by RESPA’s limitations period in an administrative proceeding.  That said, given how little attention was directed to the RESPA questions, it is likely that the full 11-member panel will affirm the 3-judge panel’s views on RESPA expressed last October.

It would appear that Director Cordray will remain at his desk until his term expires in July 2018.  He may, however, need to revise his interpretation of Section 8(c)(2).

 

After leaving residential mortgage lenders guessing for many years, the California Department of Business Oversight (“DBO”) finally provided the industry with some guidance on the documentation licensees may use to verify compliance with the state’s per diem statutes.

The California per diem statutes (Financial Code § 50204(o) and Civil Code § 2948.5) prohibit a lender from requiring a borrower to pay interest for more than one day prior to the disbursement of loan proceeds, subject to some limited exceptions.

In 2007, the DBO issued Release No. 58-FS (the “2007 Release”), which provided guidance on acceptable evidence of compliance with Financial Code § 50204(o):

  • A final, certified HUD-1 that reflects the disbursement date;
  • Written or electronic records of communications between the licensee and the settlement agent verifying the disbursement date of loan proceeds and identifying the name of the settlement agent providing the information and the electronic or business address used to contact the settlement agent; or
  • Contemporaneous written or electronic records of oral communications between the licensee and the settlement agent verifying the disbursement date of loan proceeds and identifying the name and telephone number of the settlement agent providing the information.

Of course, much has changed since 2007, including the enactment and implementation of TRID, which replaced the HUD-1 with the Closing Disclosure.  Continue Reading Carpe Per Diem Redux — California Clarifies How to Document Compliance

Dealing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) another setback, on April 21, 2017, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals refused to enforce a Civil Investigative Demand (CID) issued by the CFPB. The decision is likely to have broad implications for how the CFPB identifies the nature and scope of its investigations in its CIDs, which to date have provided investigation subjects with little information about the nature of the CFPB’s concerns. More precisely defined investigations could provide significant benefits to CID recipients, as well as establish a basis to challenge the requests set forth in CIDs. To learn more about the ruling and its implications, read our Legal Update.

 

The California Department of Business Oversight* (“DBO”) appears to have backed off of its pronouncement late last year that lenders may not deliver per diem disclosures to all borrowers.

California’s infamous per diem statutes (Fin. Code § 50204(o)Civ. Code § 2948.5) have been the basis of scores of licensing agency examination findings and actions for many years now, resulting in significant refunds and penalties. In fact, just last week the DBO announced that a lender had agreed to pay a settlement of $1.4 million for per diem violations. That is just one of many such settlements that often run into the many hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. One reason for this is the lack of certainty in agency interpretation. Just one example of that uncertainty was addressed by the DBO at the California Mortgage Bankers Association’s (“CMBA’s”) Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference this past December.  Continue Reading Carpe Per Diem Disclosure — California Department of Business Oversight Clarifies its Position

On January 20, the Ninth Circuit handed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) a victory in one of the first cases challenging the CFPB’s investigative authority — although that victory seems tied to the particular facts of the case.

The court held that the CFPB has the authority to investigate the activities of for-profit, small-dollar lenders created by three Indian tribes (the Tribal Lending Entities). Given the unique facts of the case, however, the decision may provide scant guidance for the other pending cases challenging the CFPB’s authority to issue administrative subpoenas known as Civil Investigative Demands (CIDs).

The case before the Ninth Circuit involved CIDs issued to the Tribal Lending Entities as part of an investigation into whether small-dollar online lenders were violating federal consumer financial laws. Unlike the other pending challenges to the CFPB’s investigative authority, the Tribal Lending Entities did not claim that the nature of their activities (lending money) was outside the scope of the CFPB’s authority. Instead, they argued that the CFPB’s investigative powers – which are limited to sending CIDs to “persons” – did not authorize the agency to send such demands to tribal entities. The Ninth Circuit disagreed. Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Affirms CFPB Authority to Investigate Tribal Lenders

On Friday, January 13, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) filed a lawsuit against a Minnesota bank in which it alleged that the bank violated the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act by unlawfully redlining in the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington metropolitan statistical area (“Minneapolis MSA”).  The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, claims that from 2010 to at least 2015, the bank purposely avoided serving the credit needs of residents in majority-minority neighborhoods while meeting the credit needs of residents in majority-white neighborhoods.  The DOJ is seeking damages for aggrieved persons, civil money penalties, and injunctive relief. The bank has chosen to litigate, rather than settle, as it believes the DOJ’s claim is baseless. Continue Reading Redlining Revelations: DOJ Lawsuit Alleges Discriminatory Practices by Bank

Claims brought by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) alleging that a company engaged in deceptive conduct must be accompanied by specific factual allegations or face dismissal, according to a ruling by a federal judge in the Central District of California. Because the Central District of California is a favorite forum of the CFPB’s and allegations of deceptive conduct are a common claim brought by it, the decision may have long-term implications for how the CFPB pleads its cases, which cases it brings and where it brings them. To learn more about the ruling and its implications, read our Legal Update.

 

With just a week to spare before its 45-day deadline for appeal expired, last week the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for en banc review of the October three-judge panel decision in PHH Corp. v. CFPB.  Penned by Judge Brett Kavanaugh, that ruling declared the CFPB’s single-director structure unconstitutional and rejected the CFPB’s interpretation of Section 8 of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA).  The CFPB’s petition does not come as a surprise.  If the D.C. Circuit agrees to rehear the constitutional and/or RESPA arguments, the three-judge panel ruling will be stayed pending the full court’s decision and the CFPB will return to business as usual, at least for now. Continue Reading CFPB Petitions D.C. Circuit for Review of PHH Ruling by Full Court

Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that it is sending warning letters to 44 mortgage lenders and mortgage brokers, stating that the CFPB staff has information that the companies may not be complying with their obligations to report data under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA).

The CFPB states in its press release that it “identified the 44 companies by reviewing available bank and nonbank mortgage data,” but it does not provide further details about how the companies were identified.

The warning letters note that failure to comply with HMDA reporting requirements “could result in the imposition of the full range of available remedies, including injunctive relief and civil money penalties.”

The letters are a reminder to all institutions to ensure that they are compliant with HMDA.  Several years ago, the CFPB issued consent orders against two institutions for inaccurate HMDA reporting, requiring them to correct and resubmit certain data and to implement effective HMDA compliance management systems.  The letters described above may signal that the CFPB plans to step up its HMDA enforcement again.