The True Lender Issue May Be An Open Door Now

Posted on September 9, 2016 by Neil Garfield;

edit done by Keneth March 1, 2017

THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.

In an article published by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, it appears that the evasive true lender argument received new life in an ancillary proceeding before a Federal District Judge in California. By holding that a tribal bank originating loans for a non-bank lender was not a “true lender.” The effects on foreclosure litigation are obvious. Most loans were originated by parties acting not as banks but as sales organizations or mortgage brokers. The money came from an entity created to mask the fact that the funding for the loan came from a dark pool of investor money instead of either a bank lender or a non bank lender. Hence the “table-funded” lender was not a lender any more than the originator.

In this case the finding of the court means that usury laws apply which might be something to look at especially in adjustable rate mortgage loan papers executed in favor of a non-lender who was acting on behalf of a non-lender and certainly nobody in the alleged chain was acting in its capacity as a bank lender unless they actually made the loan. remedies for usury law violations range widely among the states. In some, the remedy is loss of the debt and three times the debt in statutory damages.

The most important part of this decision as I see it is that if a party has no risk or money in the loan, then it is not a lender.

The ultimate effect of this decision might well bring down the foreclosure marketplace. If the originator and the party behind the curtain were not bank lenders, then they might not be lenders at all. Hence transfers from parties who were neither bank lenders nor nonbank lenders might have stumbled into the ultimate argument that the loan contract was never consummated.

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California Court Weighs in on “True Lender” Issue as CFPB Expands its UDAAP Enforcement Authority

Any bank originating loans for a non-bank lender was not the “true lender”—making the loans subject to state usury limits.

In a significant decision, on August 31, 2016 the US District Court for the Central District of California held that a tribal bank originating loans for a non-bank lender was not the “true lender”—making the loans subject to state usury limits.

Background

In December 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) commenced litigation against CashCall (a payday lender in a partnership with a tribal bank) and other defendants, claiming that they had violated the federal law prohibition on unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices (UDAAP) for financial services providers by servicing and collecting on loans that were wholly or partially void or uncollectible under state law.

The CFPB alleged that:

  • CashCall (a non-bank payday lender) and not the tribal bank that partnered with CashCall was the “true lender” because only CashCall had money at risk;
  • there was no reasonable basis for the choice of tribal law as the governing law for the loan contract and, therefore, in the absence of an effective contractual choice-of-law provision, the law of the borrower’s state governed the contracts;
  • because the loan contracts charged interest rates in excess of the usury limits in the sixteen states identified by the CFPB, the contracts were wholly or partially void and/or uncollectible under applicable state law in those states;
  • therefore, by collecting on the loan contracts and attempting to collect on the same, CashCall’s actions were deceptive and violated the federal UDAAP statute.

The court granted the CFPB’s motion for partial summary judgment on all four elements of its liability theory.

This case is the latest in a number of cases brought against CashCall that have raised “true lender” questions and have caused uncertainty for marketplace lending and other non-bank lenders that use a bank partnership model for the origination of consumer loans. However, the court’s decision is particularly significant for a number of reasons, most notably the following:

  • The CFPB’s argument that a state law violation can be a predicate for a federal UDAAP violation represents a significant potential expansion of the agency’s authority. As the court noted, state law violations have been used, with some limitations, as predicates for finding deceptive practices violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act’s prohibitions against misrepresenting the “legal status” (that is, the collectability) of a debt, which often depends on state law, but this appears to be the first significant application of that theory to the general Dodd-Frank Act UDAAP prohibition.
  • In deciding the “true lender” issue, the court essentially adopts the holding in CashCall, Inc. v. Morrisey, 2014 WL 2404300 (W.Va. May 30, 2014), a West Virginia state law case, holding that the proper test for determining the “true lender” is the “predominant economic interest” of the parties. Varying slightly from Morrisey, the court finds that the “key and most determinative factor” is whether the bank “placed its own money at risk at any time during the transactions, or whether the entire money burden and risk of the loan program was borne by CashCall.” Therefore, although the court uses the term predominant economic interest, the court’s holding could be read to establish that the bank does not have to have more economic interest in the transaction than the non-bank partner. Rather, the bank would be found to be a “true lender” if the bank has any of its own funds at risk for any period of time.
  • The court dismisses without comment the holdings in other federal cases that looked to the contractual relationships between the parties to determine the “true lender,” such as Sawyer v. Bill Me Later, Inc., 23 F. Supp. 3d 1359 (D. Utah 2014).
  • Typically, “true lender” issues are raised by private litigants or state regulatory authorities tasked with enforcing state law. In this case, the CFPB, a federal agency that has no apparent authority to enforce state law, has used state law as a predicate for a federal law violation.
  • According to the court, CashCall relied on the advice of counsel that the tribal bank partnership did not require CashCall to obtain state lending licenses or subject the loans to state laws. However, reliance on counsel did not absolve CashCall—or its CEO and owner—from liability for the UDAAP statute and other violations.

Opinion by Foley & Lardner Attorneys

Justice Scalia, speaking for a unanimous court, stated that “the language [of TILA] leaves no doubt that rescission is effected when the borrower notifies the creditor of his intention to rescind. ”Nothing in the statute suggests that the borrower need also file a lawsuit within that three year period. The Jesinoskis satisfied the requirements of TILA by mailing a notice of their intent to rescind within three years of obtaining their loan. The Court’s also noted that TILA eliminated the common-law rule that a borrower must tender the proceeds received in a transaction for rescission to occur.

So what does all this mean? We think this: A borrower’s letter notifying a lender of an intent to rescind is itself the rescission. The loan is cancelled at the moment notice is given. In other words, rescission is not effected by a court, it is accomplished with a letter.

The lender’s choices upon receiving a rescission notice will be either to accept the rescission or dispute it. If accepted the lender must return all payments and terminate its security interest. The borrower then must tender the loan proceeds to the lender. Should the lender wish to contest the rescission notice, it should send a letter so stating to the borrower. Then either the lender or the borrower may file a declaratory judgment action to determine whether the notice was valid. Also, if the borrower defaults, the lender might file a foreclosure action or initiate nonjudicial foreclosure proceedings as appropriate.

The borrower would then assert rescission as an affirmative defense to foreclosure or in a declaratory judgment action to halt a nonjudicial sale.

Remember, courts have the discretion to not only determine whether there is a proper basis for a rescission notice but also to reorder the creditor’s and debtor’s obligations in the event rescission was proper. Even if the rescission notice is well founded, a court can still require the borrower to show an ability to tender before forcing the lender to return funds and void a security interest. How all that works will be judge dependent but based on the language of this case fewer courts will require plaintiff to tender loan proceeds before the lender must satisfy its duties.

One thing is certain: The three years to file limitations defense is gone.

Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., No. 13-684, 574 U.S. ___, 190 L. Ed. 2d 650 (Jan. 13, 2015).

FOLEY & LARDNER LLP

Key Takeaways: Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

The combination of using state law as a predicate for a UDAAP violation and rejection of the advice of counsel defense makes this decision noteworthy. The legal theory implicit in the CFPB’s approach is that, in attempting to collect a debt, a creditor makes an implied representation that that debt is enforceable or, conversely, a material omission that the debt is unenforceable. In rejecting the advice of counsel defense, the CFPB successfully took the position that the objective falsity of this implied representation or omission is “deceptive” in violation of the UDAAP statute regardless of the creditor’s subjective belief that the debt was collectible. Under that combination of theories, a creditor’s failure to “disclose” any violation of state law that the CFPB concludes is “material”—even if the creditor reasonably believes that its practices comply with state law—may give rise to a federal “deception” charge.

One can expect the CFPB to use a similar “bootstrap” approach to relying on other state law violations as a predicate to its UDAAP enforcement authority in future litigation, and reliance on the advice of counsel regarding state law compliance will not afford a consumer financial services provider a safe harbor from accusations of wrongdoing by the CFPB. Given the CFPB’s active and aggressive approach to UDAAP enforcement, consumer financial services providers would be well-advised to evaluate their state law compliance programs and scrutinize very closely bank partnership models. We also believe that other federal agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which have longstanding authority similar to the CFPB’s UDAAP authority, could view this decision as judicial encouragement to exercise their authority in this space as well.

The decision presumably will be appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, where CashCall’s prospects for success are unknown at this time.

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See Also:

EXAMPLE NOTICE OF RIGHT TO CANCEL

RIGHT OF RESCISSION

EXAMPLE NOTICE COVER LETTER

HOW ONE WOMAN BEAT THE BIG BANKS

FILING YOUR RESCISSION IN THE OFFICE OF THE CLERK

We have affiliation with foreclosure attorneys around the country. To get help sending your NOTICE OR RIGHT TO CANCEL to cancel the mortgage transaction fill out the FREE CONSULTATION FORM HERE

See Also:

Legally Cancel Your Student Loans. http://studentloan2.com

Void Judgments: http://void-judgments.com

http://yourrighttocancel.com Is here to show homeowners how to put the pretender lenders in the corner and how to nullify the mortgage and the note by operation of law.



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