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Inside Washington (09/29/2011)
* WASHINGTON (9/30/11)--The Federal Housing Finance Agency offered two new mortgage servicing compensation plans for comment, narrowing the options from four proposed earlier this year. Both plans were outlined in a discussion paper released Tuesday (American Banker Sept. 29). One option would be a modest change from the current compensation model and would establish a minimum serving fee of 20% coupled with a reserve account structure if a disproportionate number of loans pool become nonperforming. It is similar to a plan proposed by the Mortgage Bankers Association and The Clearing House Association. The other plan would differ fundamentally from the current servicing model by replacing the traditional 0.25 percentage point annual fee with a fee-for-service model and unspecified financial incentives … * WASHINGTON (9/30/11)--The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating several residential mortgage servicing firms for illicit practices, associate director Joel Winston said this week. Addressing the Mortgage Bankers Association regulatory compliance conference this week, Winston said the agency continues to be “active” in the mortgage servicing area (American Banker Sept. 29). He would not provide the names or number of firms the FTC is pursuing. In March it was disclosed that the agency was investigating Ocwen Financial Corp., a specialty/subprime servicer based in West Palm Beach, Fla. Winston said the FTC has contacted the firms targeted … * WASHINGTON (9/30/11)--A federal judge in Iowa ruled last week that the Dodd-Frank Act did not materially change the federal pre-emption standard for national banks, the second such court decision this year. The rulings seem to indicate that the courts are not supporting claims by regulators that Dodd-Frank forces national banks to comply with state consumer protection laws (American Banker Sept. 29). In the Iowa case, a district court judge ruled that national banks do not have to comply with a state law that restricts ATM service providers. Industry observers say the two cases have provided legal backing to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s rule--made over the Treasury Department’s objections--that said preemption was for the most part unaffected by Dodd-Frank. Earlier this year, a Florida judge reaffirmed a lower court’s decision preempting a state law that prohibited banks from charging check-cashing service fees on non-accountholders …

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