Appearing before the House Financial Services Committee last week, Director Cordray offered yet another explanation for why CFPB enforcement lawyers are accompanying CFPB examiners on CFPB exams. According to news reports, Mr. Cordray stated that the practice is intended to allow supervisory and enforcement staffs to learn more about how each other operates. He was quoted as saying that the CFPB wants “the supervision teams to understand where enforcement works and why and how” and that the CFPB also wants “the enforcement team to understand how supervision and examinations work.”
As Alan Kaplinsky reported, a different explanation was offered in early March by Deepak Gupta, formerly the CFPB’s Senior Counsel for Enforcement Strategy. Mr. Gupta had indicated that the enforcement lawyers were being sent to exams to provide legal advice to the examiners, who are non-lawyers.
Needless to say, the lack of a consistent rationale for the CFPB’s practice is unsettling and does not help to alleviate industry fears that the purpose of the exams is to obtain information and documents that the CFPB can use to initiate enforcement actions.