Guidelines for Appeals of Material Supervisory Determinations
January 19, 2021 Financial Institution Letter: Revised Guidelines for Appeals of Material Supervisory Determinations
Section 309(a) of the Riegle Community Development and Regulatory Improvement Act of 1994 (Public Law No. 103-325, 108 Stat. 2160) (Riegle Act) required the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to establish an independent intra-agency appellate process to review material supervisory determinations made at insured depository institutions that it supervises. The Guidelines for Appeals of Material Supervisory Determinations (Guidelines) describe the types of determinations that are eligible for review and the process by which appeals will be considered and decided. The procedures set forth in these Guidelines establish an appeals process for the review of material supervisory determinations by the Office of Supervisory Appeals (Office).
B. Reviewing Officials
The Office will be staffed with reviewing officials who have bank supervisory or examination experience. Reviewing officials will be hired for terms, and only former, rather than current, government officials will be eligible to serve as reviewing officials. Reviewing officials will consider and decide appeals submitted to the Office. Each appeal will be reviewed and decided by a panel of either three or five reviewing officials who have no conflicts of interest with respect to the appeal or the parties to the appeal. All decisions related to which reviewing officials will serve on which panels will be decided by the Office.
C. Institutions Eligible to Appeal
The Guidelines apply to the insured depository institutions that the FDIC supervises (i.e., insured State nonmember banks, insured branches of foreign banks, and state savings associations), and to other insured depository institutions for which the FDIC makes material supervisory determinations.
D. Determinations Subject to Appeal
An institution may appeal any material supervisory determination pursuant to the procedures set forth in these Guidelines.
(1) Material supervisory determinations include:
(a) CAMELS ratings under the Uniform Financial Institutions Rating System;
(b) IT ratings under the Uniform Rating System for Information Technology;
(c) Trust ratings under the Uniform Interagency Trust Rating System;
(d) CRA ratings under the Revised Uniform Interagency Community Reinvestment Act Assessment Rating System;
(e) Consumer compliance ratings under the Uniform Interagency Consumer Compliance Rating System;
(f) Registered transfer agent examination ratings;
(g) Government securities dealer examination ratings;
(h) Municipal securities dealer examination ratings;
(i) Determinations relating to the appropriateness of loan loss reserve provisions;
(j) Classifications of loans and other assets in dispute the amount of which, individually or in the aggregate, exceeds 10 percent of an institution’s total capital;
(k) Determinations relating to violations of a statute or regulation that may affect the capital, earnings, or operating flexibility of an institution, or otherwise affect the nature and level of supervisory oversight accorded an institution;
(l) Truth in Lending Act (Regulation Z) restitution;
(m) Filings made pursuant to 12 C.F.R. § 303.11(f), for which a request for reconsideration has been granted, other than denials of a change in bank control, change in senior executive officer or board of directors, or denial of an application pursuant to section 19 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (FDI Act), 12 U.S.C. § 1829 (which are contained in 12 C.F.R. § 308, subparts D, L, and M, respectively), if the filing was originally denied by the Director, Deputy Director, or Associate Director of the Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection (DCP) or the Division of Risk Management Supervision (RMS);
(n) Decisions to initiate informal enforcement actions (such as memoranda of understanding);
(o) Determinations regarding the institution’s level of compliance with a formal enforcement action; however, if the FDIC determines that the lack of compliance with an existing formal enforcement action requires an additional formal enforcement action, the proposed new enforcement action is not appealable;
(p) Matters requiring board attention; and
(q) Any other supervisory determination (unless otherwise not eligible for appeal) that may affect the capital, earnings, operating flexibility, or capital category for prompt corrective action purposes of an institution, or that otherwise affects the nature and level of supervisory oversight accorded an institution.
(2) Material supervisory determinations do not include:
(a) Decisions to appoint a conservator or receiver for an insured depository institution, and other decisions made in furtherance of the resolution or receivership process, including but not limited to determinations pursuant to Parts 370, 371, and 381, and section 360.10 of the FDIC’s rules and regulations;
(b) Decisions to take prompt corrective action pursuant to section 38 of the FDI Act, 12 U.S.C. § 1831o;
(c) Determinations for which other appeals procedures exist (such as determinations of deposit insurance assessment risk classifications and payment calculations); and
(d) Formal enforcement-related actions and decisions, including determinations and the underlying facts and circumstances that form the basis of a recommended or pending formal enforcement action.
(3) A formal enforcement-related action or decision commences, and becomes unappealable, when the FDIC initiates a formal investigation under 12 U.S.C. § 1820(c) (Order of Investigation), issues a notice of charges or a notice of assessment under 12 U.S.C. § 1818 or other applicable laws (Notice of Charges), provides the institution with a draft consent order, or otherwise provides written notice to the institution that the FDIC is reviewing the facts and circumstances presented to determine if a formal enforcement action is merited under applicable statutes or published enforcement-related policies of the FDIC, including written notice of a referral to the Attorney General pursuant to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) or a notice to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for violations of ECOA or the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Such notice may be provided in the transmittal letter accompanying a Report of Examination. For the purposes of these Guidelines, remarks in a Report of Examination do not constitute written notice that the FDIC is reviewing the facts and circumstances presented to determine if a proposed enforcement action is merited. Commencement of a formal enforcement-related action or decision will not suspend or otherwise affect a pending request for review or appeal that was submitted before the commencement of the formal enforcement-related action or decision.
(4) Additional Appeal Rights:
(a) In the case of any written notice from the FDIC to the institution that the FDIC is determining whether a formal enforcement action is merited, the FDIC must issue an Order of Investigation, issue a Notice of Charges, or provide the institution with a draft consent order within 120 days of such a notice, or appeal rights will be made available pursuant to these Guidelines. If the FDIC timely provides the institution with a draft consent order and the institution rejects the draft consent order in writing, the FDIC must issue an Order of Investigation or a Notice of Charges within 90 days from the date on which the institution rejects the draft consent order in writing or appeal rights will be made available pursuant to these Guidelines. The FDIC may extend these periods, with the approval of the Chairperson’s Office, after the FDIC notifies the institution that the relevant Division Director is seeking formal authority to take an enforcement action.
(b) In the case of a referral to the Attorney General for violations of the ECOA, beginning on the date the referral is returned to the FDIC, the FDIC must proceed in accordance within paragraph (a), including within the specified timeframes, or appeal rights will be made available pursuant to these Guidelines.
(c) In the case of providing notice to HUD for violations of the ECOA or the FHA, beginning on the date the notice is provided, the FDIC must proceed in accordance within paragraph (a), including within the specified timeframes, or appeal rights will be made available pursuant to these Guidelines.
(d) Written notification will be provided to the institution within 10 days of a determination that appeal rights have been made available under this section.
(e) The relevant FDIC Division and the institution may mutually agree to extend the timeframes in paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) if the parties deem it appropriate.
E. Good-Faith Resolution
An institution should make a good-faith effort to resolve any dispute concerning a material supervisory determination with the on-site examiner and/or the appropriate Regional Office. The on-site examiner and the Regional Office will promptly respond to any concerns raised by an institution regarding a material supervisory determination. Informal resolution of disputes with the on-site examiner and the appropriate Regional Office is encouraged, but seeking such a resolution is not a condition to filing a request for review with the appropriate Division, either DCP, RMS, or the Division of Complex Institution Supervision and Resolution (CISR), or to filing a subsequent appeal with the Office under these Guidelines.
F. Filing a Request for Review with the Appropriate Division
(1) An institution may file a request for review of a material supervisory determination with the Division that made the determination, either the Director, DCP, the Director, RMS, or the Director, CISR (Director or Division Director), 550 17th Street, NW, Room F-4076, Washington, DC 20429, within 60 calendar days following the institution’s receipt of a report of examination containing a material supervisory determination or other written communication of a material supervisory determination. A request for review must be in writing and must include:
(a) A detailed description of the issues in dispute, the surrounding circumstances, the institution’s position regarding the dispute and any arguments to support that position (including citation of any relevant statute, regulation, policy statement, or other authority), how resolution of the dispute would materially affect the institution, and whether a good-faith effort was made to resolve the dispute with the on-site examiner and the Regional Office; and
(b) A statement that the institution’s board of directors or senior management has considered the merits of the request and has authorized that it be filed. Senior management is defined as the core group of individuals directly accountable to the board of directors for the sound and prudent day-to-day management of the institution. If an institution’s senior management files an appeal, it must inform the board of directors of the substance of the appeal before filing and keep the board of directors informed of the appeal’s status.
(2) Within 45 calendar days after receiving a request for review described in paragraph (1), the Division Director will:
(a) review the appeal, considering whether the material supervisory determination is consistent with applicable laws, regulations, and policy, make his or her own supervisory determination without deferring to the judgments of either party, and issue a written determination on the request for review, setting forth the grounds for that determination; or
(b) refer the request for review to the Office for consideration as an appeal under Section G and provide written notice to the institution that the request for review has been referred to the Office.
(3) No appeal to the Office will be allowed unless an institution has first filed a timely request for review with the appropriate Division Director.
(4) In any decision issued pursuant to paragraph (2)(a) of this section, the Director will inform the institution of the 30-day time period for filing with the Office and will provide the mailing address for any appeal the institution may wish to file.
(5) The Division Director may request guidance from the Office or the Legal Division as to procedural or other questions relating to any request for review.
G. Appeal to the Office
An institution that does not agree with the written determination rendered by the Division Director may appeal that determination to the Office within 30 calendar days after the date of receipt of that determination. Failure to file within the 30-day time limit may result in denial of the appeal by the Office.
1. Filing with the Office
An appeal to the Office will be considered filed if the written appeal is received by the FDIC within 30 calendar days after the date of receipt of the Division Director’s written determination or if the written appeal is placed in the U.S. mail within that 30-day period. The appeal should be sent to the address indicated on the Division Director’s determination being appealed, or sent via e-mail to ESS_Appeals@fdic.gov. Upon receiving the appeal, the Office will send an acknowledgment to the institution, and will send copies of the institution’s appeal to the Office of the Ombudsman and the appropriate Division Director.
2. Contents of Appeal
The appeal should be labeled to indicate that it is an appeal to the Office and should contain the name, address, and telephone number of the institution and any representative, as well as a copy of the Division Director’s determination being appealed. If oral presentation is sought, that request should be included in the appeal. If expedited review is requested, the appeal should state the reason for the request. Only matters submitted to the appropriate Division Director in a request for review may be appealed to the Office. Evidence not presented for review to the Division Director is generally not permitted; such evidence may be submitted to the Office only if approved by the reviewing panel and with a reasonable time for the Division Director to review and respond. The institution should set forth all of the reasons, legal and factual, why it disagrees with the Division Director’s determination. Nothing in the Office administrative process shall create any discovery or other such rights.
3. Burden of Proof
The burden of proof as to all matters at issue in the appeal, including timeliness of the appeal if timeliness is at issue, rests with the institution.
4. Submissions from the Ombudsman and the Division Director
The Ombudsman and the Division Director each may submit views regarding the appeal to the Office within 30 calendar days of the date on which the appeal is received by the Office.
5. Oral Presentation
The Office will, if a request is made by the institution or by FDIC staff, allow an oral presentation. The Office may hear oral presentations in person, telephonically, electronically, or through other means agreed upon by the parties. If an oral presentation is held, the institution and FDIC staff will be allowed to present their positions on the issues raised in the appeal and to respond to any questions from the Office.
6. Consolidation, Dismissal, and Rejection
Appeals based upon similar facts and circumstances may be consolidated for expediency. An appeal may be dismissed by the Office if it is not timely filed, if the basis for the appeal is not discernable from the appeal, or if the institution moves to withdraw the appeal. The Office will decline to consider an appeal if the institution’s right to appeal is not yet available under Section D(4), above.
7. Scope of Review and Decision
The Office will be an appellate body and will make independent supervisory determinations. The Office will review the appeal for consistency with the policies, practices, and mission of the FDIC and the overall reasonableness of, and the support offered for, the positions advanced. The Office’s review will be limited to the facts and circumstances as they existed prior to, or at the time the material supervisory determination was made, even if later discovered, and no consideration will be given to any facts or circumstances that occur or corrective action taken after the determination was made. The Office will not consider any aspect of an appeal that seeks to change or modify existing FDIC rules or policy. The Office will notify the institution, in writing, of its decision concerning the disputed material supervisory determination(s) within 45 days after the date the Office meets to consider the appeal, which meeting will be held within 90 days after either the date of the filing of the appeal or the date that the Division Director refers the appeal to the Office.
8. Role of the Legal Division
The Legal Division will provide counsel to the Office and generally advise the Office on FDIC policies and rules. If an appeal seeks to change or modify FDIC policies or rules, or raises a policy matter of first impression, the Office will, with the Legal Division’s concurrence, refer the matter to the Chairperson’s Office. The Legal Division also will review decisions of the Office for consistency with applicable laws, regulations, and policies of the FDIC prior to their issuance. If the Legal Division determines that a decision is contrary to a law, regulation, or policy of the FDIC, the Office will revise the decision to conform with relevant laws, regulations, or policies.
9. Other Communications
Any communications between the Office and either supervisory staff or the appealing institution will be shared with the other party to the appeal, subject to limitations on disclosure.
H. Publication of Decisions
Decisions of the Office will be published as soon as practicable, and the published decisions will be redacted to avoid disclosure of the name of the appealing institution and any information exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act and the FDIC’s document disclosure regulations found in 12 CFR Part 309. In cases in which redaction is deemed insufficient to prevent improper disclosure, published decisions may be presented in summary form. Published Office decisions may be cited as precedent in appeals to the Office. Annual reports on the Office’s decisions and Division Directors’ decisions with respect to institutions’ requests for review of material supervisory determinations also will be published.
I. Appeal Guidelines Generally
Appeals to the Office will be governed by these Guidelines. The Office, with the concurrence of the Legal Division, will retain discretion to waive any provision of the Guidelines for good cause. Supplemental rules governing the Office’s operations may be adopted. Institutions may request extensions of the time period for submitting appeals under these Guidelines from either the appropriate Division Director or the Office, as appropriate. If a filing under these Guidelines is due on a Saturday, Sunday, or a Federal holiday, the filing may be made on the next business day.
J. Limitation on Agency Ombudsman
The subject matter of a material supervisory determination for which either an appeal to the Office has been filed, or a final Office decision issued, is not eligible for consideration by the Ombudsman. However, pursuant to Section (G)(4) of these Guidelines, the Ombudsman may submit views to the Office for its consideration in connection with any pending appeal.
K. Coordination with State Regulatory Authorities
In the event that a material supervisory determination subject to a request for review is the joint product of the FDIC and a State regulatory authority, the Director, DCP, the Director, RMS, or the Director, CISR, as appropriate, will promptly notify the appropriate State regulatory authority of the request, provide the regulatory authority with a copy of the institution’s request for review and any other related materials, and solicit the regulatory authority’s views regarding the merits of the request before making a determination. In the event that an appeal is subsequently filed with the Office, the Office will notify the institution and the State regulatory authority of its decision. Once the Office has issued its determination, any other issues that may remain between the institution and the State authority will be left to those parties to resolve.
L. Effect on Supervisory or Enforcement Actions
The use of the procedures set forth in these Guidelines by any institution will not affect, delay, or impede any formal or informal supervisory or enforcement action in progress during the appeal or affect the FDIC’s authority to take any supervisory or enforcement action against that institution.
M. Effect on Applications or Requests for Approval
Any application or request for approval made to the FDIC by an institution that has appealed a material supervisory determination that relates to, or could affect the approval of, the application or request will not be considered until a final decision concerning the appeal is made unless otherwise requested by the institution.
N. Prohibition on Examiner Retaliation
The FDIC has an experienced examination workforce and is proud of its professionalism and dedication. FDIC policy prohibits any retaliation, abuse, or retribution by an agency examiner or any FDIC personnel against an institution. Such behavior against an institution that appeals a material supervisory determination constitutes unprofessional conduct and will subject the examiner or other personnel to appropriate disciplinary or remedial action. Institutions that believe they have been retaliated against are encouraged to contact the Regional Director for the appropriate FDIC region. Any institution that believes or has any evidence that it has been subject to retaliation may file a complaint with the Director, Office of the Ombudsman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, 3501 Fairfax Drive, Suite E-2022, Arlington, Virginia, 22226, explaining the circumstances and the basis for such belief or evidence and requesting that the complaint be investigated and appropriate disciplinary or remedial action taken. The Office of the Ombudsman will work with the appropriate Division Director to resolve the allegation of retaliation.
Supervision Appeals Review Committee (SARC) Decisions
Points of Contact
- James S. Watts, Counsel, Legal Division, (202) 898-6678
- Patricia Colohan, Associate Director, Risk Management Examinations Branch, Division of Risk Management Supervision, (202) 898-7283
- Tara Oxley, Associate Director, Compliance and CRA Examinations Branch, Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection, (202) 898-6722