By Peter Schroeder - 05/09/14 04:04 PM EDT
The head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Friday touted his agency’s efforts to collect over $3.5 billion from financial bad actors on behalf of consumers.
Speaking in Chicago, Richard Cordray said the bureau has worked with other regulators to provide billions of dollars in relief to consumers mistreated by financial institutions.
Some of those funds went to pay back consumers, while others were part of fines assessed to discourage bad actors from making the same mistakes in the future, he added.
Furthermore, Cordray said there are “legitimate occasions” when regulators should not only pursue an institution, but seek justice from individuals central to the wrongdoing. The CFPB has filed suit against individual executives, sought fines and even barred them from certain industry sectors, Cordray said. And in “appropriate instances,” individuals have also been referred to the Justice Department for potential criminal prosecution.
The CFPB has announced enforcement actions against a host of financial players, ranging from credit card companies to mortgage insurers. Many of those actions began under other regulators, which the CFPB took over once it was established.
In his remarks, Cordray said the financial crisis proved the need for the CFPB, just as filth in the meatpacking industry drove the push for clean food and drug laws. Created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law and a frequent target of GOP critics, the agency has now assumed a “permanent place in American consumer finance," Cordray said.
He also noted that when other regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission were first established, they too were the frequently criticized before ultimately winning the support of the industry they oversee.
“I firmly believe that our new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will also one day be championed by the financial industry as well as consumers, because accountability creates a better marketplace for all who take part in it,” he said.