Earlier this evening [January 14, 2014], the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (the “OCC”), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (such three agencies together, the “Banking Agencies”), Securities and Exchange Commission, and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC” and, collectively, the “Agencies”) issued an interim final rule (the “Interim Final Rule”) regarding the treatment of certain collateralized debt obligations backed by trust preferred securities (“TruPS-backed CDOs”) under the final rule (the “Final Rule”) implementing Section 619 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”), commonly known as the “Volcker Rule.” The Volcker Rule imposes broad restrictions on proprietary trading and investing in and sponsoring private equity and hedge funds (“covered funds”) by banking organizations and their affiliates.
Posts Tagged ‘OCC’
2013 was a year of continuing challenges and opportunities for U.S. banks. The low-interest rate environment continued to challenge the ability of banks to lend profitably. Already burdensome regulatory demands grew weightier with expanded Dodd-Frank stress testing and the finalization of the Volcker Rule, among other things. More than ever before, the responsibility of directors of financial institutions for regulatory compliance and bank safety and soundness is broadening, highlighted most recently by the OCC’s steps to formalize its program of supervisory “heightened expectations” for larger banks and their directors. Against this backdrop, the banking industry saw steady and creative deal activity, with a pronounced concentration among community banks.
These Davis Polk flowcharts are designed to assist banking entities in identifying permissible and impermissible covered fund activities, investments and relationships under the final regulations implementing the Volcker Rule, issued by the Federal Reserve, FDIC, OCC, SEC and CFTC on December 10, 2013.
The flowcharts graphically map the key elements of the covered fund provisions in the final regulations. An introduction to the new covered funds compliance requirements will also be available soon as a standalone module and in a single combined document.
These Davis Polk flowcharts are designed to assist banking entities in identifying permissible and impermissible proprietary trading activities under the final regulations implementing the Volcker Rule, issued by the Federal Reserve, FDIC, OCC, SEC and CFTC on December 10, 2013. An introduction to the new compliance requirements is also included.
To make our summary and analysis of the final rules more user-friendly, these flowcharts graphically map the key restrictions on covered trading activities in lieu of a traditional law firm memo.
On October 30, 2013, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (the “OCC”) issued updated guidance to national banks and federal savings associations on assessing and managing risks associated with third-party relationships, which include all business arrangements between a bank and another entity (by contract or otherwise).  The new guidance introduces a “life cycle” approach to third-party risk management, requiring comprehensive oversight throughout each phase of a bank’s business arrangement with consultants, joint ventures, affiliates, subsidiaries, payment processors, computer network and security providers, and other third parties. Rather than mandating a uniform set of rules, however, the guidance instructs banks to adopt risk management processes commensurate with the level of risk and complexity of its third-party relationships. Accordingly, the OCC expects especially rigorous oversight of third-party relationships that involve certain “critical activities.”
The revamped guidance reflects the OCC’s concern that the increasing risk and complexity of third-party relationships is outpacing the quality of banks’ risk management over these outsourcing arrangements. The guidance cautions that a bank’s failure to implement appropriate third-party risk management processes may constitute an unsafe and unsound banking practice, and could prompt formal enforcement actions or a downgrade in a bank’s CAMELS management rating to less than satisfactory. The severity of these consequences suggests that third-party risk management practices are becoming an increasingly important focus of OCC supervisory efforts.
On August 28, 2013, a consortium of U.S. banking, housing and securities regulators (the “Agencies”)  re-proposed the joint regulations (the “Re-Proposed Rules”), to implement Section 15G of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Section 15G requires the Agencies to prescribe joint regulations to require “any securitizer to retain an economic interest in a portion of the credit risk for any asset that the securitizer, through the issuance of an asset-backed security, transfers, sells or conveys to a third party.”  This has popularly been referred to as a “skin in the game” requirement intended to align the interests of those originating or aggregating loans with the interests of investors in securitizations of those loans. The Re-Proposed Rules are the Agencies’ second attempt at rulemaking under Section 15G, the first coming with proposed joint regulations released on April 14, 2011 (the “Initial Proposed Rules”). 
Both the Initial Proposed Rules and the Re-Proposed Rules would generally require a “securitizer” to retain at least 5 percent of the credit risk associated with the assets backing a securitization transaction, subject to various exemptions and offsets. The Initial Proposed Rules prescribed some basic forms of risk-retention that could be used in any type of securitization, as well as some forms of risk-retention that would apply only to specific types of securitizations (such as those involving revolving asset master trusts, which are common to credit-card and automobile floorplan securitization, CMBS transactions, certain federal agency securities issuances, and ABCP conduits).  The Re-Proposed Rules appear to be dramatically simpler than the Initial Proposed Rules and address many of the more significant issues presented by the Initial Proposed Rules. Nevertheless, the Re-Proposed Rules present a number of issues of their own.
On August 28, 2013, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (collectively, Agencies) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (Proposed Rule) in connection with the risk retention requirement mandated by Section 941 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act). The Proposed Rule can be found here.
The risk retention requirements of Section 941 of the Dodd-Frank Act are intended to align the interests of securitizers with those of other securitization transaction participants by requiring securitizers to retain some of the credit risk in the assets they securitize, or to have “skin in the game.” Section 941 added Section 15G to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which requires the Agencies to prescribe risk retention rules. Section 15G also generally requires a securitizer to retain no less than 5 percent of the credit risk in assets it sells into a securitization and prohibits a securitizer from directly or indirectly hedging or otherwise transferring the credit risk that the securitizer is required to retain, subject to limited exemptions. The Proposed Rule follows the initial rule proposal and request for comment by the Agencies released in April 2011 (the Original Proposal). As described below, the Proposed Rule reflects comments received on the Original Proposal and re-proposes the risk retention rules with a number of modifications.
On March 22, 2013, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB), and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) (collectively, the “bank regulators”) released their final guidance on leveraged lending activities.  The final guidance does not deviate significantly from the proposed guidance released last year on March 26, 2012, but does attempt to provide clarity in response to the many comment letters relating to the proposed guidance received by the bank regulators. The final guidance is the latest revision and update to the interagency leveraged finance guidance first issued in April 2001. 
The OCC has published long-awaited guidance notifying federally-chartered insured depository institutions (“IDIs”) that it is prepared to grant applications to delay compliance with Section 716 of the Dodd-Frank Act (the “Swaps Pushout Rule”) for up to two years.  The Swaps Pushout Rule will become effective on July 16, 2013. A federally-chartered IDI  must submit a formal request for a transition period to the OCC by January 31, 2013. The content of such requests is discussed further below.
We believe that the Federal Reserve and the FDIC will issue similar guidance to state-chartered IDIs subject to their primary supervision. But it remains to be seen whether such guidance will address the application of the Swaps Pushout Rule to uninsured U.S. branches and agencies of foreign banks.
In October 2012, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the “FRB”) published in the Federal Register final rules implementing the requirements of Section 165(i)(1) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”) concerning supervisory stress tests to be conducted by the FRB (the “Annual Supervisory Stress Test Rule”) and Section 165(i)(2) of Dodd-Frank regarding semi-annual company-run stress tests (the “Semi-Annual Company-Run Stress Test Rule,” and, together with the Annual Supervisory Stress Test Rule, the “Stress Test Rules”). The Stress Test Rules apply to bank holding companies (“BHCs”) with total consolidated assets of $50 billion or more (“Large BHCs”) and nonbank financial companies designated by the Financial Stability Oversight Council (“Designated SIFIs,” and together with Large BHCs, “Covered Companies”). Concurrent with the Stress Test Rules, the FRB, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC,” and together with the FRB and OCC, the “Agencies”) published separate final rules implementing the requirements of Section 165(i)(2) of Dodd-Frank regarding annual company-run stress tests (the “Annual Company-Run Stress Test Rules”) for supervised entities (BHCs, savings and loan holding companies (“SLHCs”) and depository institutions) with average total consolidated assets greater than $10 billion other than Covered Companies (together “Covered Institutions”). The Stress Test Rules and Annual Company-Run Stress Test Rules have substantial implications for capital planning, including capital distributions.
The specific application of the rules generally depends on the type of entity involved (for example, BHC, depository institution, or SLHC), the size of the institution and its applicable regulator. In summary, the requirements of the Stress Test Rules and Annual Company-Run Stress Test Rules are as follows: