Remarks made by Ori Lev, the CFPB’s Deputy Enforcement Director for Litigation, at the ABA Consumer Financial Services Committee’s spring meeting last week further clarified the role of CFPB enforcement attorneys in CFPB exams. His remarks, coupled with comments made by another CFPB official at the Committee’s winter meeting, leave no doubt that the enforcement attorneys are much more than passive observers. 

 At the winter meeting, Kristen Donoghue from the Bureau’s Office of Enforcement indicated that there was close collaboration between supervisory and enforcement staff and that enforcement attorneys “support,” “help,” and “assist” supervisory staff in exams. 

Speaking at the spring meeting program titled “CFPB Investigations, Enforcement and Settlement,” Mr. Lev forcefully rejected any suggestion that the presence of an enforcement attorney at an examination meant the supervised entity was being targeted for an enforcement action.  He indicated that staffing enforcement attorneys on examinations “has nothing to do with the risk we perceive” at the supervised entity “because enforcement attorneys are at every exam.” 

Mr. Lev gave some insight into the nature of the “support” provided by enforcement attorneys. He indicated that one of the CFPB’s rationales for having enforcement attorneys participate in exams is to give the onsite enforcement attorney a better understanding of the supervised entity than the attorney would have by just looking at an after the fact report of the exam results. To that end, examiners and onsite enforcement attorneys may work together in the course of an examination, and such cooperation may lead to additional areas of examination for determining whether a compliance violation has occurred.