January 3, 2024

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s (Treasury) Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) began accepting beneficial ownership information reports. The bipartisan Corporate Transparency Act, enacted in 2021 to curb illicit finance, requires many companies doing business in the United States to report information about the individuals who ultimately own or control them. Reporting companies created or registered to do business in the United States before January 1, 2024 must file by January 1, 2025. Reporting companies created or registered to do business in the United States in 2024 have 90 calendar days to file after receiving actual or public notice that their company’s creation or registration is effective.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) issued a statement saying that “while the rule is a step in the right direction, it remains a significant deviation from what Congress intended.” 

Treasury released a request for information (RFI) to inform its development of a national strategy for financial inclusion. Treasury was directed to develop a strategy to improve financial inclusion in the Joint Explanatory Statement accompanying the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act of 2023. This RFI offers the opportunity for interested individuals and organizations to identify opportunities to advance financial inclusion through policy, government programs, financial products and services, technology, and other tools and infrastructure. Written comments and information are requested on or before February 20, 2024.

The Federal Reserve Board (FRB) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) announced the 2024 updated asset–size thresholds used to define “small bank” and “intermediate small bank” under their current Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) regulations. The changes define a small bank as an institution that, as of December 31 of either of the prior two calendar years, had assets of less than $1.564 billion and an intermediate small bank as a small institution with assets of at least $391 million as of December 31 of both of the prior two calendar years and less than $1.564 billion as of December 31 of either of the prior two calendar years. These asset–size thresholds are effective as of January 1, 2024.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that in December the CFPB sent $6 million in financial relief to consumers harmed by illegal lending practices targeting veterans. Five people and their companies allegedly misled veterans and other consumers into selling their pension and disability payments, which is illegal under federal and relevant state law. These transactions were instead illegal high-interest loans.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that Dean C. Metry has been named the agency’s Chief Administrative Law Judge. Judge Metry will lead the SEC’s impartial Office of Administrative Law Judges that conducts hearings and issues initial decisions in administrative proceedings before the agency. Judge Metry succeeds James E. Grimes, who served for eight years with the agency, including his last as the SEC’s Chief Administrative Law Judge.

The SEC announced that BarnBridge DAO, a purportedly decentralized autonomous organization, and its two founders, Tyler Ward and Troy Murray, will pay more than $1.7 million to settle charges that they failed to register BarnBridge’s offer and sale of structured crypto asset securities known as SMART Yield bonds. The Commission also charged the respondents with violations stemming from operating BarnBridge’s SMART Yield pools as unregistered investment companies. To settle the SEC’s charges, BarnBridge agreed to disgorge nearly $1.5 million of proceeds from the sales, and Ward and Murray each agreed to pay $125,000 civil penalties.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced that it has appointed Feral Talib as Executive Vice President and Head of Surveillance and Market Intelligence. In the newly created role, Talib will be responsible for leading FINRA’s surveillance program, which serves a unique and critical role in fostering the integrity of the U.S. securities markets.

The Senate Banking Committee Democrats published their Year-End Recap and Next-Year Outlook. The Committee Democrats stated that they “will remain focused on watching AI’s growth, and ensuring that AI, Big Banks, and Big Tech are supporting consumers, not taking advantage of them,” in the year ahead. 

U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced The Fair Audits and Inspections for Regulators’ (FAIR) Exams Act to help create a fair appeals process for banks and increase transparency for the bank examination process. The Act would: 

  • require the appropriate regulatory agencies to issue timely responses to bankers during the examinations process;

  • require the Federal Financial Institutions Examinations Council (FFIEC) to make available upon request the information relied upon for determinations;

  • create an Independent Examination Review Director within the FFIEC to address examination complaints and procedures;

  • provide financial institutions with the right to seek review of supervisory determinations with the Independent Examination Review Director; and

  • authorize the director to review the examination record and, at the institution’s request, refer the appeal to an administrative law judge.

The legislation was cosponsored by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Bill Hagerty (R-TN). The text of the legislation is not yet available. 

The Florida State Senate introduced the Florida Earned Wage Access Services Act, which would regulate earned wage access providers. If passed, the legislation would be effective on October 1, 2024. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) released a statement regarding supplemental national security legislation, stating:

“Bipartisan border security negotiations are essential to the Senate’s efforts to address critical national security priorities. Our colleagues are making encouraging progress on this front. Challenging issues remain, but we are committed to addressing needs at the southern border and to helping allies and partners confront serious threats in Israel, Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific. The Senate will not let these national security challenges go unanswered. As negotiators work through remaining issues, it is our hope that their efforts will allow the Senate to take swift action on the national security supplemental early in the new year. In the time remaining this year, Senate and Administration negotiators will continue to work in good faith toward finalizing their agreement.”

Need to catch up on what happened before the new year? Check out our December 20th Midweek Update here