On February 2, 2018, the Fed announced that it issued a consent Cease and Desist order with Wells Fargo—the bank holding company. The Fed’s press release noted that Wells is replacing 4 directors within this year (out of 17 that signed the C&D), but this reconfiguration is not a formal requirement of the C&D. Press reports imply that the Fed was behind these changes. Of course, Wells is as closely supervised by the Fed as any bank could be; nonetheless, the Fed takes no responsibility for the errors at Wells and shows no humility in passing out blame. It is without precedent for the Fed to write personal letters to former directors (as summarized below), roundly rebuke them and then publish the letters.
Yesterday, the Fed and FDIC released their letters to the bigger foreign banks, i.e. the banks just below the UBS-level. The Fed’s letters were in response to the resolution plans filed in December of 2015. In these letters, the Fed and FDIC expressed what they expected in the next round of resolution plans from these banks due at the end of this year. The Fed conceded that even though these banks are huge, their U.S. activities are of "limited complexity." Only HSBC was given a laundry list of new items that the regulators expected to see in the 2018 Plan
For the first time in my memory, the Congress passed a joint resolution to disapprove a final regulation of a federal agency—in this case the CFPB and the rule was related to arbitration clauses in contracts for consumer financial products. In addition, the agencies amended certain definitions under CRA and these changes should be reflected in CRA policies and procedures at banks. Both the OCC and FDIC published final rules on requirements for Qualified Financial Contracts and introduced required language for larger banks.
Last week, the DFS announced an enforcement action and charges against the NY Branch of Habib Bank, a Pakistani bank that had been doing business in NY for almost 40 years.
With a straight face, President Trump has issued an executive order on June 20th that would expand Apprenticeship opportunities in the US in order to expand jobs. The CFTC has adopted some final rules on records administration and its whistleblower program. It has also introduced a new project to evaluate its system of rules to see where simplification is warranted. FinCEN is moving against a Chinese bank that helps North Korea.
Yesterday the Fed published a proposed guidance document for its expectations for board of directors of banks. The release only applies to the boards of banks with over $50 billion in consolidated assets, but the intent of the Fed is to ease up on directors at all banks. The proposal was issued after an extensive review of the activities of bank boards and reflects independent directors’ dissatisfaction with the burdens that the regulators have been placing on bank directors.
Foreign Investment Funds
At the end of last week, the Fed and the other banking agencies issued an interpretation that applied to investments in certain foreign funds by foreign banking organizations that are subject to the Volcker rule. Such banks may control what is kno
wn as an excluded foreign fund until July 21, 2018, without having the investments made by such fund being subject to the Volcker rule. Under the Fed’s interpretation of the Volcker rule, certain investment funds sold exclusively outside the U.S. would be deemed subject to the Volcker rule if these funds were controlled by a foreign bank that was itself subject to the Volcker rule.
Topics: Volcker Rule
Just yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a version of a new banking bill (the “Choice Act”). The Choice Act makes scores of efforts to cut back on the regulatory regime created under Dodd-Frank Act. Many of the changes are of principal interest to domestic banks but the provisions dealing with regulatory relief will be of interest to foreign banks doing business in the U.S.
Donald Trump has made this newsletter obsolete. This covers two months and there are almost no new or even proposed rules. In fact, I am covering developments that in the past were deemed so picayune that I would have left them out. The CFPB has published 30 pages of corrections and elaborations to a rule that was “finalized” in 2015—will it ever end.
Donald Trump was not kidding when he said he was going to stem the tide of new regulations affecting American businesses. The effect in the banking area has been an astounding collapse in activity at the banking agencies. During the first four months of 2017 there has been a dramatic reduction in new and proposed regulations. A comparison to 2016 will highlight these differences across the 10 federal agencies that we follow in order to prepare the regulatory newsletter.