Is there such a thing as the “Mulvaney Discount” when it comes to the penalties being assessed by the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection under acting director Mick Mulvaney? At least one published report seems to think so.
In looking at the penalties that the BCFP has assessed in consent orders, settlements, and other enforcement actions under Mulvaney, one report concludes that the BCFP is handing down softer penalties against companies that violate consumer protection statutes, such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and have nearly done away with forcing violators to repay consumers.
Triton Management Group, an auto title lender that made $1.5 million by excessively charging additional fees to individuals who took out loans with the company, was ordered to pay a $500,000 fine, or $1 million less than it made in violating the law, according to the report. The reason for the reduction was because Triton demonstrated an inability to pay the total amount that was overcharged.
The report also looked at the settlement with National Credit Adjusters and its chief executive, Brad Hochstein. The original penalties called for the company and Hochstein to be fined $3 million each, but those penalties were suspended and the company was ordered to pay $500,000 and Hochstein $300,000.
In another order, the BCFP announced a $5 million settlement with TCF Bank related to overdraft fees charged to individuals, but $3 million of that was sent to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which also engaged in an enforcement action against the bank.
“The thing for me that’s most puzzling is the bureau doesn’t seem to have an articulable justification for why it is that fines are being suspended,” said Christopher Peterson, a former enforcement counsel at the agency during the Obama administration, who now teaches law at the University of Utah.