USA watchdog seeks record fine against Wells Fargo for abuses


In the almost six months since White House budget director Mick Mulvaney took over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency has abandoned more enforcement cases than it has brought in federal court.

"We've not filed any lawsuits since I've been there, that doesn't mean we're not supervising and enforcing", Mulvaney told the House Financial Services Committee.

"I still maintain that the CFPB is the most powerful and unaccountable agency in the history of the republic", said Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, the Republican chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Mulvaney said he had taken the "extraordinary step" of ratifying enforcement actions initiated by his predecessor, Richard Cordray, in moves meant to prevent the agency's targets from continuing to challenge the agency's independent, single-director design.

Along with the many changes in direction of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under Trump appointee Mick Mulvaney, the bureau's name itself is being reconsidered.

The head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says the agency he runs "does not exist".

The dynamic change in the roles of the questioners at the hearing represents a reversal from when the CFPB was led by Cordray.

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In November, President Donald Trump appointed Mulvaney, the White House budget chief, to also serve as the bureau's acting director. He even endorsed abolishing the CFPB, casting it as a renegade regulator that hurts Americans by crippling access to credit. The agency rolled out mortgage and payday-lender rules and cracked down on bad behavior by penalizing Citigroup, Wells Fargo and many other lenders. Since taking the helm he has sought zero funding for its second quarter, launched a review of all agency policies and inserted into the CFPB's mission statement the goal to cut regulations. Lawyers are also reportedly debating whether the bank should pay a higher fine for the uneven treatment of auto loan customers.

"The best way to get rid of the bureau would be to take it over" and "stop doing what it does, ... so you stop then doing investigations, you stop doing enforcement, you stop doing the kinds of things that the bureau was put into business creation to do", Meeks said.

Meanwhile, congressional Democrats refused to acknowledge that Mulvaney is the acting director of the bureau, referring to an ongoing court case in which the deputy director of the bureau, Leandra English, is suing, claiming that she is the true acting director.

Mulvaney explained that although he wants to reform the CFPB, "I haven't blown the place up". "I don't know many people that work two full-time jobs and do both of them in an exemplary manner".

Replying to another question, he said, "It is fair to say that I was hostile to the existence of the bureau".