The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) and its Committee on Bank Supervision have published their 2016 operating plan. That document is a road map to the agency’s enforcement priorities this year. Many of those priorities offer big whistleblower opportunities.
The Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (“FIRREA”) pays whistleblower awards up to $1.6 million for information about misconduct that could weaken federally insured banks. Because the FDIC backs bank deposits, the government wants to insure banks remain healthy. Banks and bankers that engage in misconduct potentially jeopardize the safety of the bank and their customers’ deposits.
We realize that the banking world is a maze of overlapping regulatory agencies. There is an alphabet soup of regulators including the OCC, Office of Thrift Supervision, SEC, Federal Reserve, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, FDIC, state agencies and others. Each have their own enforcement priorities. By examining these, one can see what problems are the focus of regulators. Finding misconduct helps the government keep our financial system safe and can earn a sizeable award.
For 2016, the OCC says it is focused on the following:
- Business model and strategy
- Credit risk
- Interest rate risk
Several of these priorities present great whistleblower opportunities
FIRREA and Credit Underwriting
The OCC plans to focus on commercial and retail credit underwriting practices. We have seen an uptick in complaints about bad loan underwriting. Simply writing bad loans may jeopardize the health of a bank but it doesn’t mean fraud is involved. Ignoring underwriting guidelines, cutting corners simply to write more loans and hiding bas loans from auditors may violate banking laws, however. In that case, if the behavior is significant, whistleblower awards may be available under FIRREA for those who step forward and report the misconduct.
Bank Secrecy Act and Anti Money Laundering
The federal government continues to pursue banks that help Americans commit tax evasion by hiding money offshore and banks that allow terrorists and drug cartels to launder money through their accounts. Whether intentional or merely acting out of greed, banks with weak anti-money laundering programs are at risk of steep fines and enforcement sanctions.
A copy of the OCC‘s annual plan can be found here.
We are one of the few law firms that concentrate in whistleblower cases against banks. Our banking whistleblowers have already received over $100 million in awards. If you know of misconduct by a bank, bank officer or fraud involving a bank, give us a call. Improper insider loans, abuse of TARP funds, improper mortgage underwriting, hiding bad loans and money laundering can all lead to FIRREA awards. Some misconduct, such as bad mortgage underwriting, can also lead to even larger whistleblower awards under the False Claims Act.
If you know of fraud, report it. We can help you qualify and collect the largest possible award for your information.
MahanyLaw – America’s Whistleblower Lawyers