In the March 2021 edition of this newsletter, we reported on the decision of the Southern District of New York in a lawsuit involving a massive wire-transfer mistake. The Second Circuit has entered a briefing schedule, which will see the appeal (Case No. 21-487) fully briefed by late-July, with oral argument set to occur in August or September of 2021. In the meantime, the parties have recently finished briefing in the Southern District related to Citibank’s motion for an injunction that would prohibit the defendants from distributing the erroneously transferred funds in the meantime. The briefing hints at how the issues on appeal may shake out and how the decision is already beginning to impact the wire-transfer industry.
In March, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument in Lacewell v. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (Case No. 19-04271). This is the appeal from the Southern District of New York lawsuit in which the New York Department of Financial Services challenged the OCC’s decision to begin accepting special purpose national bank charters (“SPNB charters” or “fintech charters”) from financial technology companies that would participate in certain aspects of the business of banking but which would not receive deposits. (S.D.N.Y. Case No. 18 Civ. 8377) The district court sided with DFS, determining that DFS had standing and that the National Bank Act precluded the OCC from issuing charters to entities that do not receive deposits.
Federal legislation giving financial institutions the green light to bank marijuana-related-businesses (MRBs) is once again before the 117th Congress. This time around there seems to be bipartisan support in both the House and Senate for passage.
A blockbuster lawsuit out of the Southern District of New York—involving a nearly $900 million wire-transfer mistake—has raised a host of questions about fairness, equity, and the “discharge for value” affirmative defense. The case, which is already subject to an expedited appeal in the Second Circuit, is certain to be a hot topic for some time to come and promises—one way or another—to have a lasting impact upon the wire transfer industry.
Common sense suggests that account holders will become disgruntled when their money market investment accounts (MMIAs) are converted into money rates savings account (MRSAs) and subsequently, the bank lowers the interest rate from a guaranteed 6.5% to the then variable market rate of 0.01% per year.
For years, the payments giant PayPal wrangled unsuccessfully with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau or CFPB) over its decision to treat certain types of “digital wallets” capable of storing funds as “prepaid accounts” subject to the Bureau’s prepaid accounts rule. After the Bureau finalized its prepaid accounts rule, PayPal brought a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia challenging two key provisions of the final prepaid rulemaking.
A check kiting scheme is like a house of cards. It takes at least two banks to play. Assume a simple kite structure where the fraudster uses two accounts at separate banks to cover uncollected funds or overdrafts in one bank by writing checks drawn on uncollected funds or overdrafts at the other bank. The fraudster takes advantage of the float period between the moment of deposit at one bank and the moment of payment by the other. The fraudster also takes advantage of both banks’ willingness to pay checks against uncollected funds.
In the waning days of the Trump Administration, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fulfilled its promise to address the holes left in its first set of rulemaking amending the federal debt collection rule known as Regulation F. The finalizing amendments are now complete, making it possible to gain some preliminary perspective on the 2020 revised regulation in its entirety.
The end of 2020 and start of 2021 have been marked by a new round of Paycheck Protection Program legislation and updated regulations, as well as a number of decisions from the courts concerning PPP issues—all of which hopefully provides additional clarity for a program in which clarity has often been sorely lacking.
Newly minted Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett authored a significant decision while serving as an appellate judge on the Seventh Circuit. The decision is directly relevant to the financial services industry and consumers. The holding of the case allowed federal standing requirements to close the gateway to federal jurisdiction in a class action lawsuit brought under a consumer protection statute.
Early in this millennium, the Sedona Conference earned a reputation for providing helpful, workable guidance for emerging and overlooked or underserved areas of the law, particularly e-discovery. Via a series of think-tank-style working groups focused on discrete legal issues, the Sedona Conference tries to create “practical solutions and recommendations” which are then “developed and enhanced through a substantive peer-review process” and ultimately “widely published in conjunction with educational programs for the bench and bar, so that it can swiftly drive the reasoned and just advancement of law and policy in the areas under study.” Many judicial decisions—especially from the district courts that must effectively, efficiently, and justly administer the law and civil rules—rely upon and even praise the principles developed by the Sedona Conference, whose mission “is to move the law forward in a reasoned and just way through the creation and publication of nonpartisan consensus commentaries and through advanced legal education for the bench and bar.”
The banking industry entered the coronavirus pandemic in a position of relative strength—far stronger than it was before the Great Recession. As a result, everyone from bank customers to the federal government has looked to banks to help them weather the COIVD-19 storm. In particular, the CARES Act and its Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) created a structure that used banks as conduits for quickly distributing hundreds of billions of dollars of loans to businesses in the hopes that those businesses could continue to pay employees, mortgages and leases, and utilities and thus remain in business.
A favorite guessing game before the Biden administration takes charge is prognostication. The fate of agency rulemaking promulgated by the Trump administration in the area of consumer protection is a hot topic. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) recently released the first of two final rules on debt collection practices (Final Rule). Under a new Bureau head chosen by the Biden team, there is a good chance the CFPB’s rulemaking on debt collection practices is going to be revisited.
After years of regulatory juggling, in July 2020 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its so-called “Final Payday Lending Rule,” revoking the mandatory Underwriting Provisions of the 2017 Final Rule. The CFPB’s revocation of the Underwriting Provisions represents an enormous win for the small dollar lending industry. The latest iteration of the Final Rule leaves the Payment Provisions intact. Long overshadowed by the controversy over the Underwriting Provisions, the Payment Provisions are now the center of attention although the Underwriting Provisions may be resurrected when the new Biden Administration takes control of the CFPB.
Only in New York is the rule insulating a depositary bank from a direct conversion claim still good law. The rule is based on an old version of the UCC. A provision found in the Revised UCC, adopted by all the other states, completely overturns the old Code’s barrier. A recent ruling on a motion to dismiss by a New York federal district court illustrates the glaring anomaly.
Confusion continues to swirl around PPP loan forgiveness for lenders and borrowers. Lenders are holding back on processing loan forgiveness applications. Small businesses continue to be adversely affected by the pandemic. For small businesses, the need for economic assistance ostensibly coming from loan forgiveness is dire.
[NOTE: BARBARA CLARK, CO-AUTHOR OF THIS NEWSLETTER, SERVED AS A MEMBER OF THE FASTER PAYMENTS TASK FORCE.]
In a recent decision, a Massachusetts court ordered a law firm to reimburse its bank over $337,400 after falling victim to a check and wire fraud scam perpetrated by email. The decision highlights the importance of "knowing your client" before distributing funds from a client trust account.
There is a big difference between a so-called "linked" debit card issued by a bank to an account holder and a so-called "decoupled" debit card issued by a merchant to its retail customer. Many consumers carry both in their wallets and use the cards interchangeably.
Article 4A of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) does not always occupy the field of loss allocation for wire transfers. When the race to set off is in trouble, common law causes of action such as unjust enrichment, fraud, and conversion may come into play as well. A federal district court order dated March 20, 2020, denying a motion for a judgment on the pleadings, illustrates this point.