OCC Issues Final Rule Revising Community Reinvestment Act Regulations

On May 20, 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (the “OCC”) issued a final rule overhauling its regulations implementing the Community Reinvestment Act (the “CRA”).  The CRA, enacted in 1977, incentivizes banks to meet the credit needs of their entire communities, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.  The final rule makes the first major revisions to CRA regulations in nearly twenty-five years, and applies only to national banks, federal savings associations, and insured federal branches.

Click here to read our Covington Alert analyzing key features of the final rule.

OCC Issues Final Rule Clarifying Permissible Interest on Loans Sold to Third Parties by National Banks and Federal Savings Associations

On May 29, 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (the “OCC”) issued a final rule to clarify that the interest on a loan originated by a national bank (or a Federal savings association), if permissible when the loan was originated, continues to be permissible after the loan is sold, assigned, or otherwise transferred to a third party. The OCC’s regulation interprets section 85 of the National Bank Act, which prescribes the interest that a national bank may charge a loan, to incorporate the common law “valid-when-made” doctrine.

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Federal Agencies Share Principles for Offering Small-Dollar Loans

On May 20, 2020, the federal financial institution regulatory agencies—the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency—issued principles for responsibly offering small-dollar loans in order to meet consumers’ growing short-term credit needs.

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Federal Reserve Publishes Additional Detail on TALF

On Wednesday, May 20, 2020, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the “Board”) announced further details on the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (“TALF”).  The Board’s announcement contains key documents and forms, including the Master Loan and Security Agreement; updated FAQs and a blackline reflecting changes made against the version published on May 12, 2020; and an initial list of TALF Agents.

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Temporary SLR Relief Extended to Banks, With Condition

On May 15, 2020, the federal banking agencies issued an interim final rule to permit depository institutions to exclude from their supplementary leverage ratio (“SLR”) denominators through March 31, 2021 the balance sheet value of U.S. Treasury securities and funds on deposit at a Federal Reserve Bank, subject to restrictions on capital distributions.  The interim final rule complements a similar interim final rule that the Federal Reserve issued in April, which excluded the same set of assets from the SLR denominator of bank holding companies, savings and loan holding companies, and intermediate holding companies of foreign banking organizations subject to the SLR (the “Holdco Rule”).

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European Commission Launches Key Consultations Regarding Digital Finance

On April 3, 2020, the European Commission launched two public consultations on a new digital finance strategy for Europe and on a retail payment strategy for Europe, which will both run until July 15, 2020.  The consultations follow two other consultations on an EU framework for markets in crypto-assets and on a potential initiative on digital operational resilience in the area of financial services, both launched in December 2019.  The efforts are part of the larger Commission’s Digital Finance Outreach 2020 to prepare the new digital finance strategy.  However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most events have either been cancelled or postponed.  An overview of upcoming events, such as DG FISMA’s online roundtables and other national events, is available here. Continue Reading

The PPP Economic Necessity Certification: SBA Provides Additional Guidance

On May 13, 2020, the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) released two FAQs, numbers 46 and 47, regarding two safe harbors from an SBA inquiry into a borrower’s statutorily required certification of economic necessity for a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program  (“PPP”).  FAQ 46 states that the SBA will deem any borrower that, together with its affiliates, received PPP loans with an original principal amount of less than $2 million to have made the required certification in good faith.  FAQ 47 relates to an existing safe harbor for PPP loans repaid by a specific date; the FAQ extends the deadline from May 14, 2020, to Monday, May 18, 2020.  Accompanying the FAQs was an interim final rule that memorialized an earlier FAQ (number 43) that had set the repayment deadline of May 14.

The net effect of the FAQs is that a borrower that, with its affiliates, has PPP loans of more than $2 million must decide whether to repay the loan by May 18, or to undergo SBA’s review of the good-faith basis for the certification of economic necessity when the borrower’s loan forgiveness application is filed.  The SBA has outlined the nature of its review in only general terms.  Borrowers with PPP loans of $2 million or less are generally safe from such a review.

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Federal Reserve Announces Further Details on TALF

On Tuesday, May 12, 2020, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the “Board”) announced additional details regarding the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (“TALF”).  The TALF is a financial crisis-era liquidity facility designed to help meet the credit needs of consumers and businesses by facilitating the issuance of asset-backed securities (“ABS”).

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SEC Orders Equity Exchanges and FINRA to Submit New Single National Market System Plan for Equity Market Data

On May 6, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued an order (“Order”) directing the registered equity exchanges and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) (together, the “Self-Regulatory Organizations” or “SROs”) to submit to the SEC a new National Market System (“NMS”) plan to govern the public dissemination of real-time, consolidated market data for NMS stocks. This new plan would replace the three existing NMS data plans for equities with a single, consolidated plan. Only SROs have voting power on the operating committees for the existing NMS data plans, but the Order directs that the new consolidated plan provide for voting by non-SROs for the first time. The Order discusses at length comments received in response to the Notice of Proposed Order issued by the SEC on January 8, 2020.

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LCR Effects of PPPLF and MMLF Participation Neutralized

Today, May 5, 2020, the federal banking agencies released an interim final rule to neutralize the effect of participating in the Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility (“PPPLF”) and Money Market Liquidity Facility (“MMLF”) on a banking organization’s Liquidity Coverage Ratio (“LCR”).

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