WASHINGTON, April 17 The U.S. Federal Reserve's
Board of Governors took the unusual step of considering an
enforcement issue on Thursday, less than two months after Chair
Janet Yellen pledged that top officials would have more direct
involvement in such decisions.
The Fed, which has enforcement authority over bank holding
companies and foreign bank operations in the United States, said
on its website that a closed board meeting on Thursday included
discussion of an "enforcement matter."
The Fed did not disclose any details, and a Fed spokesman
declined to comment further.
U.S. lawmakers have criticized top Fed officials' tendency
to defer to staff on enforcement matters. The last time the Fed
board took up a supervisory enforcement issue at a closed
meeting was in November 2010, according to the Fed's meeting
Yellen told a Senate panel in February that the board should
be more involved in "important decisions."
Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Elijah Cummings,
both Democrats, sent a letter to Yellen recently that said
internal data showed the Fed board only voted on 11 of about
1,000 enforcement actions taken over the last 10 years.
Warren and Cummings have been particularly frustrated that
top Fed officials did not scrutinize a settlement with big banks
over home foreclosure abuses committed after the housing crash
of the 2007-2009 financial crisis. The lawmakers thought the
settlement was too lenient on the banks.
Some regulatory agencies, such as the U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission, require top officials to approve all
In the last year, the Fed, along with other regulators,
fined JPMorgan Chase over trading losses in London and
Royal Bank of Scotland over sanctions violations.
(Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Paul Simao)