Mulvaney assumes direct control of CFPB fair lending office

by Francis Monfort05 Feb 2018
More changes are afoot at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with Acting Director Mick Mulvaney placing the agency’s Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity (OFLEO) under his direct control.

So far in 2018, Mulvaney has initiated a review of the agency’s policies and procedures, requested a zero-dollar budget from the Federal Reserve, and told staff that the agency’s approach will now be marked by “humility and prudence.”

According to an email to staff obtained by The Intercept, Mulvaney is transferring the OFLEO from the Supervision, Enforcement, and Fair Lending (SEFL) division to the director’s office as part of the CFPB’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Fairness (OEOF).

According to the report, the move has startled consumer protection and civil rights advocates, stirring fears that the OFLEO will be unable to perform its mission. The fair lending unit focuses on discriminatory lending and has recovered hundreds of millions of dollar in favor of minority homeowners over the past few years, The Intercept reported.

Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the OFLEO is mandated to conduct “oversight and enforcement of federal laws intended to ensure the fair, equitable, and nondiscriminatory access to credit.” These laws include Equal Credit Opportunity Act or the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. Meanwhile, the OEOF is a personnel office and has no enforcement function at all, according to the report. The office oversees “equal employment opportunity and diversity and inclusion” among agency employees.

“The Fair Lending Office will continue to focus on advocacy, coordination, and education, while its current supervision and enforcement functions will remain in SEFL,” Mulvaney said in the email. “I do not expect that staff will experience changes in employment status, but it is possible that some may experience changes in jobs and duties.”

In a statement cited by the report, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said Mulvaney’s move is an effort to weaken the OEFL. “For years, Mick Mulvaney opposed CFPB’s efforts to fight discrimination in the consumer financial marketplace even as the agency returned $400 million from discriminatory financial institutions to American families who had been overcharged or denied credit,” she said.

Related stories:
Mulvaney outlines ‘humble, prudent’ vision for CFPB
CFPB sends Fed zero-dollar budget request


Should CFPB have more supervision over credit agencies?

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