DOB: Bulletin 2513 - Apr. 20, 2012

The Department of Banking News Bulletin 

Bulletin # 2513
Week Ending April 20, 2012

This bulletin constitutes the only official notification you will receive from this office concerning any of the following applications. Any observations you may have are solicited. Any comments should be in writing to Howard F. Pitkin, Banking Commissioner, at the Connecticut Department of Banking, 260 Constitution Plaza, Hartford, CT 06103-1800 or via E-mail. Written comments will be considered only if they are received within ten days from the date of this bulletin.



STATE BANK ACTIVITY
Merger and Acquisition
 
On April 17, 2012, pursuant to Section 36a-411 of the Connecticut General Statutes, the Commissioner approved the acquisition by Berkshire Hills Bancorp, Inc., a savings and loan holding company with its principal place of business in Massachusetts, for the acquisition of 100 percent of the voting securities of The Connecticut Bank and Trust Company, a Connecticut-chartered bank and trust company, and, pursuant to Section 36a-185 of the Connecticut General Statutes, issued a notice of intent not to disapprove such acquisition. Also on April 17, 2012, the Commissioner, pursuant to Section 36a-412(a)(1) and 36a-125 of the Connecticut General Statutes,  approved the merger of The Connecticut Bank and Trust Company, with and into Berkshire Bank, a Massachusetts savings bank and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hills Bancorp, Inc.
 

CONSUMER CREDIT DIVISION ACTIVITY
Consent Orders
 
On March 30, 2012, the Commissioner entered into a Consent Order with AFC Mortgage Group LLC (NMLS # 2801) (“AFC”), Trumbull, Connecticut.  The Consent Order was based on an examination by the Consumer Credit Division.  As a result of such examination, the Commissioner alleged that AFC employed or retained, during the period of January 13, 2009 through December 21, 2009, two (2) individuals as a mortgage loan originators who were not licensed, in violation of Section 36a-486(b) of the then applicable Connecticut General Statutes.  As part of the Consent Order, AFC was ordered to pay $2,000 as a civil penalty.
 
On March 30, 2012, the Commissioner entered into a Consent Order with GuardHill Financial Corp. (NMLS # 1609) (“GuardHill”), New York, New York.  The Consent Order was based on an examination by the Consumer Credit Division.  As a result of such examination, the Commissioner alleged that GuardHill employed or retained, during the period of April 29, 2009 through January 20, 2010, two (2) individuals as a mortgage loan originators who were not licensed, in violation of Section 36a-486(b) of the then applicable Connecticut General Statutes.  As part of the Consent Order, GuardHill was ordered to pay $2,000 as a civil penalty.
 
On April 11, 2012, the Commissioner entered into a Consent Order with Global Client Solutions (“Global”), Tulsa Oklahoma.  The Consent Order was based on an investigation by the Consumer Credit Division (“Division”).  As a result of such investigation, the Commissioner alleged in a Temporary Order to Cease and Desist, Notice of Intent to Issue Order to Cease and Desist, Notice of Intent to Impose Civil Penalty and Notice of Right to Hearing issued on November 30, 2011, that Global:  (1) engaged in the business of money transmission in Connecticut without a license, in violation of Section 36a-597(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes, (2) engaged in the business of debt adjustment in Connecticut without a license, in violation of Section 36a-656(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes, as amended by Public Act 11-216, (3) failed to cooperate with the Commissioner, in violation of Section 36a-17(d) of the Connecticut General Statutes; (4) made a statement to the Commissioner which was, at the time and in the light of the circumstances under which it was made, false or misleading in a material respect, in violation of Section 36a-53a of the Connecticut General Statutes, and (5) made untrue statements of a material fact or omitted to state a material fact necessary in order to make the statements made, in light of the circumstances under which they were made, not misleading, in violation of Section 36a-53b of the Connecticut General Statutes, in effect prior to October 1, 2011, and as amended by Public Act 11-216.  Pursuant to the Consent Order, Global:  (1) paid $150,000 as a civil penalty, (2) agreed to cease and desist from failing to cooperate with the Commissioner, making false or misleading statements in violation of Sections 36a-53a and 36a-53b of the Connecticut General Statutes, and no later than 60 days from the date of execution of the Consent Order by Global, engaging in the business of money transmission in Connecticut without a license, (3) instituted several procedures to reasonably ensure that the debt negotiation companies with which it does business in Connecticut are either duly licensed or exempt from debt negotiation licensing in Connecticut, and (4) agreed to waive monthly service fees for a three-month period for existing Connecticut customers who had engaged Global to establish a disbursement account and process payments in connection with a debt settlement program.
 

SECURITIES AND BUSINESS INVESTMENTS DIVISION ACTIVITY
Consent Order
 
On April 18, 2012, the Banking Commissioner entered a Consent Order with respect to E*Trade Securities LLC, a Connecticut-registered broker-dealer having its principal office in New York, New York.  The Consent Order followed a multi-state investigation, capped by a global settlement, into the firm's auction rate securities (ARS) activities.  The Consent Order alleged that the firm failed to reasonably supervise certain financial advisors who marketed ARS to customers as highly liquid and as an alternative to cash or money market funds without adequately disclosing that ARS were complex securities that could become illiquid.
 
The Consent Order directed the firm to cease and desist from regulatory violations and to pay a $43,962.04 fine which represented Connecticut's proportionate share of the $5 million multi-state settlement.  The Consent Order also required that the firm show that it had taken or would take certain measures with respect to ARS that had failed at auction at least once since February 13, 2008 and that had been purchased on or before that date.  These measures included offering to purchase the ARS from affected investors; participating in a special arbitration process to resolve consequential damages disputes; and submitting multi-state settlement status reports to the lead state.
 
 
     Dated:  Tuesday, April 24, 2012
 
 
       Howard F. Pitkin
       Banking Commissioner