The Director of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Richard Cordray, issued a decision yesterday in the first appeal of a Bureau administrative enforcement action.

Cordray’s decision upholds in part, and reverses in part, a 2014 Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) decision which held that PHH Corp. (“PHH”) violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) by accepting payments for the referral of a settlement service business pursuant to a captive reinsurance arrangement.

CFPB Enforcement counsel (Enforcement) had alleged that PHH participated in a “mortgage insurance kickback scheme” in violation of RESPA for over a decade. Enforcement claimed that PHH, a mortgage lender, referred borrowers to certain mortgage insurers, who in exchange for the referrals, agreed to purchase reinsurance from a PHH subsidiary at supposedly inflated rates, taking the reinsurance fees as kickbacks. Enforcement also alleged that PHH pressured the mortgage insurers into participating in the arrangement and steered business to them “even when it knew the prices [the mortgage insurers] charged were higher than competitors’ prices.” The PHH matter followed a series of settlements between the CFPB and various mortgage insurers settling similar Enforcement allegations.

For more information on the decision, please visit our official update page.