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GDPR Considerations for Community Banks

The May 25, 2018, compliance effective date of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is just weeks away, and many U.S.-based companies have at least by now taken stock of their EU customer base and operations, and developed a baseline set of compliance plans.  For many, that might only entail a data inventory and controls that would ensure that changes to the company’s business plan, advertising strategies, and physical footprint would be assessed for GDPR compliance in advance, just as with any other area of compliance.  However, for companies whose business relies upon the gathering and use of consumer data, the GDPR implementation process has been onerous.

In particular, as recent American Banker coverage has described, this compliance effort is hitting financial institutions of all sizes hard.  While the exact nature and magnitude of enforcement exposure is still unclear, U.S. banks should take a broad view of their overseas business – including where U.S. customers temporarily work or travel – in order to stay ahead of GDPR compliance issues.

For U.S.-based small businesses, including community banks, the conventional wisdom has focused on whether the institution solicits or services EU customers.  Unfortunately this approach may cause banks or other businesses to underestimate their potential exposure.

For purposes of the GDPR, compliance obligations for companies without a physical presence in the EU are generally only implicated if the company (1) offers goods and services in the EU or (2) monitors the behavior of EU customers (referred to affectionately as “data subjects” in the regulation).

Of particular concern for community banks is whether tourists, foreign work assignments, or overseas service members could cause the bank to become subject to GDPR obligations.

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Reduced Protections for Holders of an English Floating Charge

A recent decision of the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”), on a referral from the Latvian courts and which is binding on the English courts (although the UK has commenced steps to leave the EU, the UK’s formal exit is still some time away), will make it more difficult for the holder of an English floating charge to enjoy the benefit of the UK’s Financial Collateral Arrangements (No.2) Regulations 2003 (“FCARS”)

FCARS implement an EU directive whose purpose was to assist the taking of security over financial collateral, which includes securities and cash.  When the FCARS apply, the collateral taker has certain advantages: a number of insolvency law provisions as well as some formalities will not apply.  The FCARS can also permit the collateral taker to enforce its security by appropriating collateral without having to get a court order.  Thus for a holder of security over financial collateral the applicability of the FCARS to its security can be very useful.

The English floating charge is used widely.  It is a form of security whose creation in response to the needs of the emerging economic environment was endorsed by the English courts in the nineteenth century.  It allows companies to grant security whilst at the same time still being able to carry on their business.

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Financial Services Update – April 8, 2011

European Central Bank Announces Interest Rate Hike; Portugal Bailout Next

On Thursday, Jean-Claude Trichet, European Central Bank president, announced a 25 basis point rise in eurozone borrowing costs, to 1.25 percent. This will be the first of such an increase since the 2008 financial crisis. In response to the news, the euro initially dipped against the dollar but later appreciated to trade above $1.43. In his remarks, Trichet also said the ECB had encouraged Portugal to request an international bailout, which is estimated at 80 billion euros, roughly the same amount as Ireland but less than the 110 billion euro package offered to Greece. EU, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund officials will meet in Lisbon next week to negotiate the cuts that are deeper than those that were rejected by Portuguese opposition politicians last month.

SEC Reviews Private Company Share Rules

On Wednesday, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro sent a letter to House Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) saying that she had ordered a review of all the rules that affect share issues by privately held companies. According to the letter, the likely changes would include raising from 499 the number of shareholders private companies can have without being required to open their books, and also making it easier for such companies to publicize share offerings. The SEC review also will examine issues raised by the growing use of “special purpose vehicles” that allow a pool of investors to buy a stake in a company, while counting as only one shareholder for the purposes of the SEC rules. Shapiro’s letter also indicated that the SEC is considering relaxing a strict ban on private companies publicizing share issues, known as the “general solicitation” ban.

FDIC Introduces New Fed Borrowing Fee

Last Friday, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) issued a new rule that increases the fees on banks that borrow overnight funds from the Federal Reserve. The FDIC introduced the higher fees as called for in last year’s Dodd-Frank financial reform law. The higher fee has led some companies to step out of the short-term lending markets, exacerbating an already low supply of Treasury bills used to back borrowing. On Tuesday, the FDIC issued a response to criticism of the rule saying that the notice of proposed rulemaking was announced in November giving banks sufficient time to make adjustments and that the Congressionally-mandated change better reflect risks to the industry-funded Deposit Insurance Fund.

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Financial Services Update

Financial Services Update

November 29, 2010

Authored by: Matt Jessee

Irish Bailout Finalized Sunday

On Sunday, Ireland finalized plans for a bailout from the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF), after approval from EU finance ministers. European leaders hoped that such a measure would be a firewall against further bailouts in other Eurozone countries, but concern has grown over the past week that Portugal and Spain could also need such loans. The rescue package for Ireland is estimated to be worth tens of billions of dollars. Individual European nations have also announced their own loans to Ireland. Britain is putting together a $11.5 billion package and Sweden’s prime minister announced a $1.5 billion loan on Thursday. Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen last week announced a four-year “austerity plan” designed to cut spending and increase taxes. The plan would save $13.4 billion through welfare cuts and raise $6.7 billion through higher taxes. The plan’s spending cuts include reductions in the minimum wage and public-sector pay and fee increases in the VAT, utilities, education tuition, and income taxes.

Car Czar Announces Reduction in Government Oversight of GM

On Friday, the Obama administration’s “Car Czar” Ron Bloom said the government will reduce its oversight of General Motors (GM) as the government sells more of its GM stock. Since GM emerged from bankruptcy sixteen months ago, it has provided the Treasury with “regular, detailed” briefings on its financial condition. Bloom and other Administration officials took an active role during the run-up to GM’s initial public stock offering Thursday, helping to determine how much stock to sell and what price the underwriters should pay. Bloom and others will also attend GM’s first annual meeting as a public company and will vote the government’s shares on key issues. Bloom denied that the government exerted any pressure and pushed for an early IPO. However, Bloom noted that the size of the deal, the pricing and the fees to be paid to underwriters were in the government’s purview. The government ultimately sold more shares than it previously had planned — 358 million of its 912 million shares — at $33 a share. The government will need to sell its remaining shares at an average price of $52.80 to break even.

Geithner Opposes Reduction in Fed Mandate and Extension of Bush Tax Cuts

November’s election results have empowered Congressional Republicans to assert new found authority, leading Republicans to increase their criticisms of the Federal Reserve’s plan, known as “quantitative easing,” to buy $600 billion in assets, saying it would fuel inflation and asset bubbles. Republicans have cited the Fed’s dual mandate to pursue full employment as well as to promote price stability as the cause of the problem. On Tuesday, in reaction to Republican attacks, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the Obama administration would oppose any effort to strip the Federal Reserve of its mandate to pursue full employment, saying such attacks by Republicans would politicize the central bank. While Geithner also declined to say what compromise the Obama administration would be willing to make on extending the Bush income tax cuts, he did say he opposed making permanent the tax reductions for those making more than $250,000.

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Financial Services Update

Financial Services Update

October 11, 2010

Authored by: Matt Jessee

September Jobs Numbers Released

On Friday, the Department of Labor reported that the economy added 64,000 jobs but lost a net of 95,000 nonfarm jobs in September, the result of a 159,000 decline in government jobs. Of the loss in government jobs, 77,000 were temporary Census Bureau employees, 76,000 were in local governments, and 7,000 in state governments. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also released preliminary revisions to the model used to estimate job changes from month to month, indicating that the recovery has been even weaker than initially reported. The Bureau says it expects to revise down the level of employment in March 2010 by 366,000 jobs, which means jobs gains had been about 30,000 weaker each month over the 12-month period that began in March 2009.

New EU Regulations on Bankers’ Bonuses

On Thursday, the Committee of European Banking Supervisors (CEBS), which is made up of the twenty-seven member states of the European Union’s banking regulators, met in London to vote on proposed regulations on bank employees’ compensation. The preliminary rules released on Friday indicate that up to 60 percent of top bankers’ bonuses would be required to be deferred for a minimum of three years and as long as five years. However, the rules remain unclear on the precise duration of retention requirements. The preliminary rules will now be the subject of a month-long consultation process, with the final rules due to come into effect in January 2011. Other key new rules will be a requirement that banks and national regulators jointly impose a maximum multiple of salary that can be paid as a bonus to bankers. On the issue of deferral, the insistence that half of upfront pay be paid in shares, rather than cash, overrides an existing rule in the UK, where the Financial Services Authority regulations currently insist that total bonuses be share-based. The preliminary rules also clarify that deferral periods should typically extend over three years but must in any case be no shorter than one year. The rules also clarify that bankers will be barred from hedging the “claw-back” provision on deferred bonuses. The new rules will apply to EU banks’ operations globally, but only to the European arms of non-EU banks.

DOJ Settles with Visa and Mastercard

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Visa and MasterCard have agreed to a settlement concerning the Department’s antitrust civil suit. According to the terms of the settlement, Visa and MasterCard have deleted rules in their contracts that prevented merchants using their cards from encouraging customers to use other card brands carrying lower merchant inter-change fees. The settlement would allow retailers to offer rebates or discounts to consumers who agree to use their preferred method of payment. American Express, who was the third party to the Department’s civil suit, declined to settle and is still fighting the lawsuit.

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