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Inside Washington (12/16/2010)
* WASHINGTON (12/17/10)--The U.S. Department of the Treasury Wednesday announced the hiring of senior leadership for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) implementation team. Current Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray was selected to lead the agency’s enforcement division. Leonard Chanin will lead the rule-writing team and David Silberman will head the card markets division. Chanin most recently served as deputy director of the Federal Reserve Board’s Division of Consumer and Community Affairs. Silberman last served as general counsel and executive vice president of Kessler Financial Services. Federal credit unions under $10 billion in assets must comply with CFPB regulations, but exam and enforcement authorization for those rules remains with the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Credit unions with more than $10 billion in assets fall under CFPB purview, but their safety and soundness oversight remains with NCUA … * WASHINGTON (12/17/10)--Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I) said Wednesday that he will seek legislation to mandate that bankruptcy courts foster better communication between servicers and homeowners (American Banker 12/16/10). As the impetus for his proposal, Whitehouse, who is chairman of Senate Judiciary subcommittee, cited a bankruptcy loss-mitigation court program in his state that forces servicers to provide borrowers an opportunity to speak with their mortgage companies. Whitehouse said his proposal would not give judges the authority to reduce mortgage debt, but would require communication, which he said can be enough to prevent foreclosure … * WASHINGTON (12/17/10)--Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Wednesday that although the housing market remains weak, the government continues to help as many eligible home owners as possible. Geithner’s comments before a congressional oversight committee came one day after a Treasury report indicated that the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) fell well short of its stated goals. HAMP will prevent 700,000 to 800,000 foreclosures, after initial projections that it would prevent 3 million to four million foreclosures. Despite falling short of forecasts, Geithner said HAMP was a part of a strategy that left the financial system able to support, rather than impede, economic growth. “The economy as a whole has made substantial progress since the recession ended last year,” Geithner said. “Real GDP (gross domestic product) has risen for five straight quarters, and private sector firms have started to hire again. The housing market remains weak, but there are signs that it is beginning to stabilize.” Geithner said the Treasury is working to create a new housing credit and applying downward pressure to mortgage rates through agreements with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac … * VIENNA, Va. (12/17/10)--The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) assessed a $12,000 civil money penalty against Baltic Financial Services, Inc. of Montclair, N.J., for non-compliance with Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) registration requirements. FinCEN charges that the money transmitter that provides unlimited money transmission services to and from Latvia failed to maintain its registration with FinCEN as an MSB. FinCEN says money services business (MSB) registration--which must be renewed every two years--is a critical part of the government’s efforts against money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes. FinCEN’s claim says Baltic Financial, for most of the period between January 2005 and September 2010, failed to maintain its registration despite “actual knowledge” of the registration obligation. Furthermore, FinCEN states, Baltic failed to respond in a timely manner when “repeatedly reminded” that its registration with FinCEN lapsed, and continued to engage in money transmission without the benefit of registering under the BSA. There is no fee associated with MSB registration …


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