7 CFR § 4279.29 - Eligible lenders.

§ 4279.29 Eligible lenders.

An eligible lender must be domiciled in a State as defined in § 4279.2 or the District of Columbia and must not be debarred or suspended by the Federal government. If the lender is under a cease and desist order, or similar constraint, from a Federal or State agency, the lender must inform the Agency. The Agency will evaluate the lender's eligibility on a case-by-case basis, given the risk of loss posed by the cease and desist order. The Agency will only approve loan guarantees for lenders with adequate capital to fund and cover potential liquidation expenses for guaranteed loans it proposes to make and adequate experience and expertise to make, secure, service, and collect B&I loans. The lender must provide documentation as to its capital and experience in commercial lending. The lender and the Agency will execute a Lender's Agreement for each lender approved to participate in the program. If a valid Lender's Agreement already exists, it is not necessary to execute a new Lender's Agreement with each loan guarantee; however, a new Lender's Agreement must be executed with any existing lenders making new loans on or after August 2, 2016. The Agency may revoke a lender's eligible status at any time for cause, including those examples cited in § 4279.29(c).

(a) Regulated lenders. A regulated lender is any Federal or State chartered bank, or other financial institution, Farm Credit Bank, other Farm Credit System institution with direct lending authority, Bank for Cooperatives, Savings and Loan Association, Savings Bank, or mortgage company that is part of a bank-holding company. These entities must be subject to credit examination and supervision by either an agency of the United States or a State. Eligible lenders may also include the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation and credit unions provided that they are subject to credit examination and supervision by either the National Credit Union Administration or a State agency.

(b) Non-regulated lenders. The Agency may consider an applicant lender that does not meet the criteria of paragraph (a) of this section for eligibility to become a guaranteed lender for a 3-year period provided that the Agency determines that the applicant lender has the legal authority to operate a lending program and sufficient lending expertise and financial strength to operate a successful lending program. When the applicant lender is a multi-tiered entity, it will be considered in its entirety. Insurance companies (formerly included as traditional lenders) and non-regulated lenders (formerly known as other lenders) previously approved as guaranteed lenders prior to August 2, 2016 must reapply to become an approved non-regulated lender in order to originate new guaranteed loans. However, both insurance companies and non-regulated lenders that have executed a Lender's Agreement must continue to service the guaranteed loans in their portfolios in accordance with that agreement.

(1) In order to become an eligible lender, non-regulated lenders must:

(i) Have been making commercial loans for at least 5 years;

(ii) Have a record of successfully making at least 10 commercial loans annually totaling at least $1 million for each of the last 5 years, with lender's delinquent commercial loan portfolio over this period not exceeding (a) 6 percent of all commercial loans made and (b) 3 percent in commercial loan losses (based on the original principal loan amount);

(iii) Have and maintain tangible balance sheet equity of at least 10 percent of tangible assets and sufficient funds available to disburse the guaranteed loans it proposes to approve within the first 6 months of being approved as a guaranteed lender;

(iv) Have and maintain a line of credit issued by a regulated lender that is acceptable to the Agency;

(v) Agree to establish and maintain an Agency approved loss reserve equal to 3 percent of each B&I loan closed and agree to increase the loss reserve for anticipated losses as required by the Agency;

(vi) Have adequate policies and procedures to ensure that internal credit controls provide adequate loanmaking and servicing guidance; and

(vii) Have undergone a credit examination at its own expense from a recognized independent reviewer acceptable to the Agency. The applicant lender should consult with the Agency prior to receiving an examination to ensure the examiner will be acceptable.

(2) A non-regulated lender that wishes consideration to become a guaranteed lender must submit a request in writing to the Agency. The Agency will notify the prospective lender whether the lender's request for eligibility is approved or rejected. If rejected, the Agency will notify the prospective lender, in writing, of the reasons for the rejection. The lender must include in its written request the following:

(i) An audited financial statement not more than 1 year old that evidences the lender has the required tangible balance sheet equity and the resources to successfully meet its responsibilities;

(ii) A copy of any license, charter, or other evidence of authority to engage in the proposed loanmaking and servicing activities. If licensing by the State is not required, an attorney's opinion stating that licensing is not required and that the entity has the legal authority to engage in the proposed loanmaking and servicing activities must be submitted;

(iii) Information on lending experience, including length of time in the lending business; range and volume of lending and servicing activity, including a list of the industries for which it has provided financing; status of its loan portfolio, including a list of loans in the portfolio with each loan's current loan classification code and delinquency and loss rates as outlined in § 4279.29(b)(1)(ii); experience of management and loan officers; sources of funds for the proposed loans; office location and proposed lending area; an estimate of the number and size of guaranteed loan applications the lender will develop; and proposed rates and fees, including loan origination, loan preparation, and servicing fees;

(iv) A copy of the examination required under paragraph (b)(1)(vii) of this section; and

(v) Documentation as to how the lender will fulfill the requirements of § 4279.30.

(3) Non-regulated lenders must submit audited financial statements to the Agency annually for monitoring purposes.

(4) Renewal of eligible lender status to continue making B&I loans is not automatic. Eligible lender status will lapse 3 years from the date of Agency approval and execution of the Lender's Agreement unless the lender obtains a renewal. A lender whose eligible status has lapsed must continue to service any outstanding loans guaranteed under this part but may not submit requests for new loan guarantees. Lenders whose eligibility has lapsed may file a subsequent request under this subsection. Lenders requesting renewal must complete and execute a new Lender's Agreement, along with a written update of the eligibility criteria required by this section for approval. Lenders requesting renewal must resubmit the information required by paragraph (b)(2) of this section and must address how the lender is complying with each of the required criteria described in paragraph (b)(1) of this section. The written update of the eligibility criteria must also include any change in the persons designated to process and service Agency guaranteed loans or change in the operating methods used in the processing and servicing of loans since the original or last renewal date of eligible lender status. The lender must provide this information to the Agency at least 60 days prior to the expiration of the existing agreement to be assured of a timely renewal.

(c) Revocation of eligible lender status. The Agency may revoke a lender's status at any time for cause. Cause for revoking eligible status includes:

(1) Failure to maintain status as an eligible lender as set forth in § 4279.29 of this subpart;

(2) Knowingly submitting false information when requesting a guarantee or basing a guarantee request on information known to be false or which the lender should have known to be false;

(3) Making a guaranteed loan with deficiencies that may cause losses not to be covered by the Loan Note Guarantee, such as negligent loan origination;

(4) Conviction of the lender or its officers for criminal acts in connection with any loan transaction whether or not the loan was guaranteed by the Agency;

(5) Violation of usury laws in connection with any loan transaction whether or not the loan was guaranteed by the Agency;

(6) Failure to obtain and maintain the required security for any loan guaranteed by the Agency;

(7) Using loan funds guaranteed by the Agency for purposes other than those specifically approved by the Agency in the Conditional Commitment or amendment thereof in accordance with § 4279.173(b);

(8) Violation of any term of the Lender's Agreement;

(9) Failure to correct any Agency-cited deficiency in loan documents in a timely manner;

(10) Failure to submit reports required by the Agency in a timely manner;

(11) Failure to process Agency guaranteed loans as would a reasonably prudent lender;

(12) Failure to provide for adequate construction planning and monitoring in connection with any loan to ensure that the project will be completed with the available funds and, once completed, will be suitable for the borrower's needs;

(13) Repetitive recommendations for servicing actions or guaranteed loans with marginal or substandard credit quality or that do not comply with Agency requirements;

(14) Negligent loan origination;

(15) Negligent loan servicing;

(16) Failure to conduct any approved liquidation of a loan guaranteed by the Agency or its predecessors in a timely and effective manner and in accordance with the approved liquidation plan; or

(17) Violation of applicable nondiscrimination law, including, but not limited to, statutes, regulations, USDA Departmental Regulations, the USDA Non-Discrimination Statement, and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. USDA's Non-Discrimination Statement is located at the following Web site: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navtype=FT&navid=NON_DISCRIMINATION.

(d) Debarment of lender. The Agency may debar a lender in addition to the revocation of the lender's status.

[81 FR 35997, June 3, 2016, as amended at 81 FR 54477, Aug. 16, 2016]