Six Republican members of the House Financial Services Committee, including Chairman Jeb Hensarling, have sent identical letters to the CFPB, OCC, Fed and NCUA asking each agency to “publicly disclaim [its] past, present, and future involvement in Operation Choke Point or any similar operation.”
The letters reference the statement issued by the FDIC in January 2015 in which the FDIC eased its stance on bank relationships with businesses targeted by “Operation Choke Point,” the coordinated federal multiagency enforcement initiative targeting banks serving online payday lenders and other companies that have raised regulatory or “reputational” concerns. The FDIC’s statement coincided with the agency’s establishment of new procedures for its examiners to follow when recommending or ordering a bank to terminate deposit accounts.
In their letters, the Republicans state that because the FDIC officials responsible for Operation Choke Point “remain employed and unpunished pending an inspector general investigation,” it remains possible “that those FDIC officials are failing to adhere to the clarified policy and that political motive may persist at the FDIC as a basis for account termination recommendations and orders.”
In addition to asking the agencies to disclaim involvement in Operation Choke Point, the Republicans want each agency to (1) publicly issue a Financial Institution Letter and memorandum for employees clarifying the agency’s policy for documenting and reporting recommendations and orders to banks to terminate deposit account relationships, and (2) confirm in writing to the Committee that the agency’s employees have been informed of this policy and the consequences for violating it.
The letters ask each agency to provide by April 15 its proposed timetable for complying with the requests made in the letters.