Former CEO of payday lender now wants to lead CFPB

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NEW YORK – The former CEO of a payday loan company investigated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has asked to be considered for the watchdog’s top job, has learned the Associated Press.

Such a demand would have been extraordinary in the years when the agency was run by a person appointed by Obama and often targeted payday lenders. Along with the recent actions taken by the CFPB, this suggests a more comfortable relationship between the industry and the regulator since the Trump administration took power in November.

Under Mick Mulvaney, President Donald Trump’s budget director and CFPB’s interim director, the office has taken a decidedly friendlier approach to the financial sector, including reducing enforcement and dropping investigations or lawsuits against lenders on salary and other companies. He also proposed revising or repealing many rules put in place by Richard Cordray, the agency’s first permanent director, including some that would have placed additional restrictions on payday lenders.

Under Cordray, for example, the CFPB opened an investigation into World Acceptance Lending Practices (WRLD). On January 22, the company said the investigation ended without enforcement action. He also said CEO Janet Matricciani stepped down after 2.5 years in the post.

Two days later, Matricciani sent an email to what appears to be Mulvaney’s personal email address to run for CFPB leadership. The email was shared exclusively with The Associated Press by Allied Progress, a left-wing consumer advocacy group, which obtained the document as part of a Freedom of Information Act request.


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“I would love to apply for the position of Director of CFPB. Who better than I understands the need to treat consumers with respect and honesty, and the equal need to provide credit to low-income consumers to help them manage their daily lives? “Matricciani wrote to Mulvaney. She attached her resume to the email.

She goes so far as to cite the CFPB’s survey of her company as an experience that uniquely qualifies her for the position.

“I have in depth [sic] experience of what a CFPB investigation is, and therefore I am in an unprecedented position to understand the effect of various CFPB actions on a company, its workforce, its customers and the industry, ”said she wrote.

World Acceptance, one of the nation’s largest payday lenders, is based in South Carolina and paid Mulvaney thousands of dollars in campaign contributions while representing the state in Congress.

Matricciani’s email suggests that she and Mulvaney have corresponded in the past. The email goes to his personal email address, and Matricciani begins by saying, “I have always enjoyed our interactions on business and regulatory situations since I became CEO of World Acceptance Corporation in 2015.”

There is no evidence that Mulvaney acted on Matricciani’s request other than to forward the email to his official government email account. President Trump has not announced a candidate for the post of permanent director of the CFPB, and a senior adviser to Mulvaney said in response to questions from The Associated Press that Matricciani was not being considered for any post at the CFPB.

World Acceptance had been under investigation by CFPB for three years into its lending practices after ProPublica published a review of the company’s lending tactics, finding evidence that it has repeatedly tricked its clients in debts they could not repay and charged them higher interest rates than what World Acceptance disclosed when customers took out the loan.

The office said the decision to drop its World Acceptance investigation was made by career staff, not Mulvaney or any other politically appointed person.

Allied Progress has called for an investigation into Mulvaney’s actions as CFPB chief. Karl Frisch, the group’s executive director, said in a statement that he believed Matricciani felt comfortable asking Mulvaney for his support because of previous campaign contributions.

Attempts to contact Matricciani through her former employer and through LinkedIn failed. World Acceptance said she was unaware Matricciani inquired about a position in the office after she left.

The CFPB has taken other steps that have benefited payday lenders since Mulvaney came to power.

Late last year, the office put regulations in place that would have made it more difficult for payday lenders to renew loans to clients. The practice is particularly profitable but is widely criticized by consumer groups as a tactic that buries payday loan clients – primarily the poor – in debt for months, if not years. While most of the key rules will not come into effect until 2019, the Mulvaney CFPB is reviewing these rules and has delayed implementation.

The office also dropped a lawsuit against another payday lender, Golden Valley.

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