American Banker recently reported that the CFPB is planning to substantially increase the size of its staff, particularly its Enforcement Division staff.
The American Banker article was based on an internal memo from Eric Halperin, CFPB Enforcement Director, which was sent to CFPB employees on September 21. As reported by American Banker, the memo indicates that Director Chopra has allocated about 75 new full-time employees to the Enforcement Division. As the CFPB currently has approximately 150 enforcement attorneys and support staff, the addition of the 75 new full-time employees would increase the number of full-time employees in the Enforcement Division by 50%. The memo also references CFPB plans to hire additional staff in its legal, operations and research, monitoring, and regulations divisions. American Banker reports that the CFPB will begin recruiting and hiring the new enforcement attorneys and staff this fall and into 2024.
The article includes the following quote from Mr. Halperin’s memo:
"These additional resources will enable us to open more investigations, including matters with significant market impact and against large market actors, consistent with the Bureau’s priorities. We also will be in a better position to meet resource demands from our increasing number of matters in contested litigation."
American Banker reports that the memo also indicates that the expansion of the CFPB’s Enforcement Division includes plans to hire a litigation deputy, assistant litigation deputies, and other support staff and to create a fifth litigation team. Mr. Halperin is also quoted as having said in the memo that “[t]he office will benefit from standing up a fifth litigation team that is as strong as the existing four teams. It will take several months to build the fifth litigation team and will involve both internal moves as well as new hiring.”
This is truly an ominous development which will undoubtedly greatly increase the volume of investigations launched and lawsuits brought by the CFPB. This increases the risk that more banks and non-banks will be targeted by the CFPB, thus making it increasingly important for them to put their compliance houses in order.