Kozeny & McCubbin Merges with Bonial & Associates, P.C. (BPC)

Bonial & Associates, P.C. (BPC) welcomes Kozeny & McCubbin and expands their legal services to mortgage loan servicers, automotive finance companies and consumer lending clients in six states.  States include Texas, California, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma.  The combined firms will operate under the name Bonial & Associates, P.C. (BPC).

The move adds all 10 attorneys and 40 staff members from Kozeny & McCubbin to BPC. The new law firm will have 27 attorneys and 92 support staff, positioning it to serve our clients with even greater efficiencies and performance.  Combined the law firm now represents over half of the top twenty mortgage servicers and consumer finance companies with leading services related to handling of foreclosure, bankruptcy, litigation, eviction and other related legal services.

“We are excited to join the Bonial family.   We are a stronger team together bringing industry leading performance and greater strategic value to our clients.” stated Wes Kozeny.  Prior to the merger, Wes Kozeny practiced in various areas, including banking, finance and mortgage lending; bankruptcy; creditors' rights; real estate matters including residential and commercial leasing and sale transactions, title litigation, foreclosures, evictions, condemnation and mechanic's liens. Mr. Kozeny is licensed to practice in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Illinois, New York and Texas.

Hilary Bonial, Director of BPC stated, “We are excited to have Wes and team join our family.  Together, we can generate even greater benefits with the expanded state footprint.  We share the passion and goal of providing excellent service for our clients!”  Ms. Bonial is licensed to practice in Texas and Louisiana, and is admitted to numerous Federal Courts.

Bonial & Associates, P.C. represents creditors in foreclosure, bankruptcy and related litigation matters. We emphasize quality, compliance and risk management.
The firm provides national bankruptcy representation for all 50 states in association with a network of over 150 other law firms who perform services as local counsel. Bonial & Associates, P.C. also provides direct legal representation on a state-wide basis throughout Texas, California, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma.   Bonial & Associates, P.C. delivers quality legal services with an emphasis on demonstrable subject matter expertise, domain knowledge and the highest levels of compliance and professional responsibility.

Retirees’ Mandatory IRA Withdrawals Would Shrink Under Treasury Plan - ABI

Retirees could take smaller mandatory withdrawals from their tax-advantaged accounts under a new Treasury Department proposal designed to adjust for rising life expectancy, the Wall Street Journal reported. If finalized, the rules would take effect in 2021, reducing tax collections and letting more money accumulate in tax-preferred accounts. The change amounts to a tax cut for retirees who don’t need to tap their savings for living expenses. According to an example in the regulations, a 70-year-old with a $250,000 retirement account would be required to withdraw $8,591 instead of $9,124. A 75-year-old with a $500,000 balance could reduce that year’s withdrawals — and thus taxable income — by about $1,500, according to Ed Slott, an accountant in Rockville Centre, N.Y., who specializes in retirement accounts. ABI

Lawmakers Increase Criticism of ‘Opportunity Zone’ Tax Break - NY Times

Lawmakers are voicing mounting concerns about a federal tax incentive, known as an “opportunity zone,” that is supposed to encourage investors to pump money into the nation’s poorest neighborhoods, the New York Times reported. Leading Democrats in the House and Senate have sent a flurry of letters demanding answers and action by federal agencies after recent New York Times articles detailed how wealthy investors and real estate developers, including those with ties to the Trump administration, are poised to profit on the initiative. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) said he was introducing legislation this week that would eliminate hundreds of opportunity zones in relatively wealthy neighborhoods. Other lawmakers have written letters to Mnuchin and called for investigations by the Treasury Department’s inspector general and the Government Accountability Office. The tax incentive is supposed to help struggling communities by attracting new businesses, housing and other real estate projects. If investors with capital gains — profits on stocks, real estate or other assets that have increased in value — invest them in one of nearly 8,800 opportunity zones, they get a discount on their capital gains tax bill, as well as the potential to avoid any future capital gains taxes if the new investment increases in value. While the incentive has driven money into economically ailing cities including Erie, Pa., and Birmingham, Ala., much of the money has gone to projects that were already planned or being built in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods in places like Houston, Miami and New Orleans. NY Times

Senators Push Bipartisan Fix to Coal Miners’ Pensions - ABI

A dozen U.S. Senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are backing legislation to shore up a pension plan covering 92,000 retired coal miners that has been depleted during a brutal downturn in the coal industry, WSJ Pro Bankruptcy reported. Sens. McConnell (R-Ky.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) introduced a bill yesterday that would transfer excess money from an abandoned mine reclamation fund to a United Mine Workers of America multiemployer pension plan. Without an infusion of public funds, the pension fund is projected to become insolvent by its 2022 plan year. U.S. coal companies that once supported the plan have dropped out over the years as they went bankrupt and sold their assets to new owners. Murray Energy Corp., which filed for bankruptcy last month, is the last major contributor still paying into the pension plan. Now Murray, too, may leave. If the pension plan becomes insolvent, the U.S. government’s pension insurer would be required to step in and cover benefits up to certain caps. The legislation is backed by nine Democratic and three Republican senators. In addition to shoring up the pension plan, it would also give miners whose companies went bankrupt since last year access to medical benefits that Congress established in 2017. ABI

CFPB Announces Action Against Student Loan Debt-Relief Operation - ABI

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), along with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, North Carolina Department of Justice and the Los Angeles City Attorney, announced an action yesterday to halt a student loan debt-relief operation engaged in allegedly unlawful conduct and consisting of several related companies: Consumer Advocacy Center Inc., which does business as Premier Student Loan Center; True Count Staffing Inc., also known as SL Account Management; and Prime Consulting LLC, which is known as Financial Preparation Services. Defendants also include Albert Kim, Kaine Wen and Tuong Nguyen, whom the Bureau alleges substantially assisted the student loan debt-relief companies. The CFPB alleges that since at least 2015, the debt-relief companies operated as a common enterprise, deceived thousands of federal student loan borrowers, and charged over $71 million in unlawful advance fees in connection with the marketing and sale of student loan debt-relief services to consumers. The CFPB alleges that Premier, along with its company co-defendants, violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 (CFPA) and the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) by making deceptive representations about the companies’ student loan debt-relief and modification services. Specifically, the complaint alleges that Premier charged and collected improper advance fees before consumers had received any adjustment of their student loans or made any payment toward such adjusted loan. ABI

U.S. Farm Bankruptcies Surge 24% on Strain From Trump Trade War - Bloomberg

U.S. farm bankruptcies in September surged 24 percent to the highest level since 2011 amid strains from President Donald Trump’s trade war with China and a year of unpredictable weather, Bloomberg News reported. Growers are also becoming increasingly dependent on trade aid and other federal programs for income, figures showed in a report by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the nation’s largest general farm organization. The squeeze on farmers underscores the toll China’s retaliatory tariffs have taken on a critical Trump constituency as the president enters a re-election campaign and a fight to stave off impeachment. The figures also highlight the importance of a “phase one” deal the administration is currently negotiating with Beijing to increase agriculture imports in return for a pause in escalating U.S. levies. Almost 40 percent of projected farm profit this year will come from trade aid, disaster assistance, federal subsidies and insurance payments, according to the report, based on Department of Agriculture forecasts. That’s $33 billion of a projected $88 billion in income. Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings in the 12 months ended September rose to 580 from a year earlier. That marked the highest since 676 chapter 12 cases in 2011. The total “remains well below” historical highs in the 1980s, the federation said. Bloomberg

America’s Middle Class Is Addicted to a New Kind of Credit - Bloomberg

The payday-loan business was in decline, but just a few years later, many of the same subprime lenders that specialized in the debt are promoting an almost equally onerous type of credit, according to a Bloomberg News commentary. It’s called the online installment loan, a form of debt with much longer maturities but often the same sort of crippling, triple-digit interest rates. If the payday loan’s target audience is the nation’s poor, then the installment loan is geared to all those working-class Americans who have seen their wages stagnate and unpaid bills pile up in the years since the Great Recession, according to the commentary. In just a span of five years, online installment loans have gone from being a relatively niche offering to a red-hot industry. Subprime borrowers now collectively owe about $50 billion on installment products, according to credit reporting firm TransUnion. In the process, they’re helping transform the way that a large swathe of the country accesses debt. And they have done so without attracting the kind of public and regulatory backlash that hounded the payday loan, according to the commentary. Bloomberg

DeVos Fined $100,000 for Failure to Forgive Student Debt - Bloomberg

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was hit with a $100,000 fine for violating a judge’s order to stop debt collection efforts against former students at bankrupt Corinthian Colleges Inc., Bloomberg News reported. Despite the order, the department went as far as seizing the students’ tax refunds and wages. U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim in San Francisco issued the fine Thursday, after finding DeVos in contempt of court. Kim ordered the $100,000 to go to a fund held by the students’ lawyers to help the more than 16,000 borrowers who she said suffered damages from the violation. Both sides must submit a plan for administering the fund by Nov. 15. The judge’s rebuke comes hours after DeVos’s point person on overhauling the student loan system abruptly resigned and publicly called for mass debt forgiveness. Bloomberg

Wave of Financial Stress Hits Low-Rated Companies - ABI

An array of business challenges are hitting low-rated companies across the U.S. economy, driving selling in the bottom tier of the corporate-debt market that contrasts with gains in stocks and other riskier assets, the Wall Street Journal reported. In recent months, consumer demands for wireless phones and high-speed internet have helped push one landline telecom company, Windstream Holdings Inc., into bankruptcy protection and another, Frontier Communications Corp., into restructuring talks with its creditors. Meanwhile, competition from cheap natural gas and renewable-energy sources has caused at least seven coal producers to file for chapter 11 protection over the past year. Opioid lawsuits and the threat of legislation that would curb surprise medical bills have exposed vulnerabilities at some highly leveraged health care companies. Retailers continue to be pressured by the shift to online shopping. And a wave of financial distress has again hit the oil patch due in part to persistently low commodity prices. Taken together, these developments have caused yields, which rise when bond prices fall, to climb for months on the lowest-rated group of corporate bonds. Unusually, that has happened even as yields have fallen on higher-rated junk bonds. ABI

Wall Street Banks See Green Light from Fed on Reserves - ABI

Wall Street banks believe they are getting a green light from supervisors to hold more Treasury debt and less cash after last month’s volatility in overnight lending markets, Reuters reported. That change could help boost liquidity in the overnight lending markets, because Treasury bonds are a common type of collateral pledged by companies and investors in exchange for cash. Banks have complained for years that the U.S. Federal Reserve can be painfully prudent with its view that Treasury bonds are not the same as ordinary dollars when used as a liquidity buffer. In recent weeks, they have intensified efforts to get Fed officials and examiners to soften their stance, and initial signs suggest the industry may finally be getting a warmer reception. In private conversations with senior bankers, supervisors have attempted to make banks more comfortable with using excess reserves to lend in repo markets rather than hold onto more cash. Banks hold regular meetings with Fed supervisors, who provide broad guidance on how to interpret regulations but do not offer formal instructions. ABI