The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) recently announced its decision to pull its enforcement lawyers out of examinations of financial institutions. The banking industry has opposed this practice since its initiation, saying that the presence of enforcement attorneys inhibited open communication with examiners and was perceived as a threat. In the past, the CFPB deputy director, Steve Antonakes, justified the practice by claiming it was meant to give enforcement lawyers “a firsthand understanding of the issues arising in examinations.” However, the policy drew criticism not only from the banking industry, but also from the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, which called the practice “counterproductive” and hampering communications in its letter to the CFPB Director this February.
Recently, Jennifer Howard, a spokeswoman at the CFPB, said that the practice of sending enforcement lawyers to exams “wasn’t efficient”. “Instead, we have decided that enforcement attorneys will continue to coordinate with examiners offsite,” said Howard. As a result, the financial industry, which has vehemently opposed the policy, will finally feel some relief.