New York Financial Services Regulator Urges More Enforcement Against Individuals, Reaffirms Focus On Nonbank Mortgage Servicers


On March 19, New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky called on banking regulators to assess whether they are doing enough, particularly with regard to enforcement, to deter or prevent financial crime. In remarks delivered to the Exchequer Club, Mr. Lawsky asserted that true deterrence means focusing not only on corporate liability, but individual accountability. He called on banking regulators to “publicly expose – in great detail – the actual, specific misconduct that individual employees engaged in,” and, where appropriate, ensure individuals face “real, serious penalties and sanctions when they break the law.” Mr. Lawsky is the most recent of several regulators and policymakers to advocate for more individual accountability. Federal enforcement officials, including CFPB Director Richard Cordray and SEC Chair Mary Jo White, have similarly threatened an enhanced enforcement focus on individuals. Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff wrote critically of financial fraud enforcement, and suggested “that the future deterrent value of successfully prosecuting individuals far outweighs the prophylactic benefits of imposing internal compliance measures that are often little more than window-dressing.” In addition to his prepared statement on individual enforcement, Superintendent Lawsky devoted a substantial amount of his remarks and Q&A responses to his concerns about nonbank mortgage servicers. He specifically raised concerns about nonbank servicers’ staffing, especially in the context of the single point of contact requirements of the CFPB’s new servicing rules and the agreements certain servicers entered into with the DFS in 2011 and 2012.

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