CFPB Director Defends Novel Regulatory Tactics

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At an event organized by a watchdog group, Rohit Chopra responded to a letter from Republicans saying his agency would pursue reforms of consumer creditors such as student-loan and credit-card companies.

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The CFPB’s crackdown on what Mr Chopra has dubbed “junk fees” is one of several that has sparked the anger of conservative lawmakers, who said in a letter on Monday that the agency was running a “smear campaign”.

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Speaking remotely at an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the non-profit Public Citizen, Mr. Chopra responded to the letter, saying he was optimistic the agency would see its work on hot-button topics such as regulation of large technology companies. Bipartisan support for “We will continue to do our job even if our staff is falsely accused,” said Mr. Chopra.

Mr Chopra has emerged as one of the Biden administration’s most vocal officials on the topic of corporate accountability, expanding on issues such as how regulators should approach companies with repeated regulatory violations. On Wednesday, he said the agency had made progress since his Senate confirmation last year on regulatory matters related to mortgage lenders and credit reporting companies.

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The Director of the CFPB acknowledged the approach to the CFPB’s mandate that may differentiate it from some of its regulatory counterparts. One of their strategies has been to enforce outdated or defunct provisions of long-existing laws and regulations in an effort to advance the agency’s policies.

“Regulators of the past have really missed some key issues that [consumer lending] The markets were suffering because many of them were more concerned about ensuring banks turn profitable,” Mr. Chopra said. “I think our sole focus has been to ensure that this is fundamentally changing. “

In their letter, Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee, including its highest-ranking Republican member, Sen. Patrick Tomei of Pennsylvania, claimed that the CFPB went back to its Obama-era roots as a “lawless and unaccountable agency”. Is.

The CFPB earlier this year began publishing a chart listing the banks with the most revenue from overdraft fees. The move fell short of the formal use of authority’s power to police unfair, deceptive or abusive practices, but it had an effect: many large banks later changed their fees, citing competitive pressures.

With regard to the allegations, Mr Chopra said on Wednesday that his agency is looking into the CFPB’s rules, inherited from the Federal Reserve Board, that require fees to be fair and proportionate. There was a difference, he said, between the flat fee used as a simple deterrent and those companies that could be used as a main revenue driver.

Mr. Chopra also said that he has noticed differences in how regulators have historically approached financial institutions of different sizes. That said, regulators and law enforcement agencies have been quick to shut down smaller firms and criminally prosecute their executives, while taking a more liberal approach with the larger players.

The CFPB aims to ensure that financial penalties by regulators are not just the cost of doing business for large institutions, he said. He said his agency is looking at a comprehensive solution to the problem of repeat offenders, including whether it has the authority to seek limits on future business practices. The Justice Department has also said that it will also look into how it resolves criminal violations by companies with multiple and similar crimes.

“It is going to take some time for the dynamics there to really change. But our staff is considering a number of new provisions, either in court or in settlement, that do away with this reliance on just a civil penalty,” said Mr. Chopra. Told.

Dylan Tokar [email protected] . Feather

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