The Enforcement Powers of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

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For several months, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB” or “Bureau”) has implemented a spate of enforcement actions against banks and non-banks. My interest in this article is neither to re-litigate those cases nor single out any particular financial institution for further scrutiny.* Sometimes we must learn our lessons at somebody else’s expense, rather than to castigate another for unseemly conduct. None of us, however, is absolved of the responsibilities, the violations of which could lead to enforcement actions against us or the financial institution where we are employed.

It is important, therefore, to have some sense of what is meant by the term “enforcement,” especially with respect to the CFPB’s authorities. The CFPB received a host of enumerated laws and related authorities on July 21, 2011[i], and, pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”), a concomitant set of defined rules were established[ii] that gave the Bureau numerous enforcement powers, including the powers to conduct investigations and implement enforcement actions to enforce federal consumer financial law.[iii]

For instance, Section 1052 of the Dodd-Frank authorizes the CFPB to engage in joint, interagency investigations and requests for information, including matters relating to fair lending. Though the statute specifically provides that, “where appropriate,” the Bureau may conduct “joint investigations” with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the Attorney General of the United States, or both, it also sets forth lengthy provisions governing subpoena powers and civil investigative demands.

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IN THIS ARTICLE

Hearings and Adjudications

Scope of Legal Remedies

Blowing the Whistle on Violations

Policy Statement and Whistleblower Protection

Locking Horns with the Department of Labor

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