In the weeks leading up to the resignation of LendingClub's chief executive officer, investment bank Jefferies Group asked the company to bolster its disclosures to borrowers, people with knowledge of the matter said.
Jefferies, which planned to bundle LendingClub loans into bonds, wanted the firm to improve its notifications to ensure that loan applicants understood they were handing over rights that could allow the lender to close loan applications faster, potentially by accessing information about customers' assets and income. Jefferies demanded that LendingClub improve the way it discloses to borrowers what those rights, known as "power of attorney," allow the company to do, said two of the people, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly.
Jefferies said it would only bundle loans made with the improved disclosures into bonds. LendingClub believed its existing language was just as clear, but changed its notifications to meet Jefferies' request at the end of March, one of the people said.
The details about the company's shifts in its disclosures give more insight behind the internal-control lapses that led to the surprise departure of LendingClub Chairman and CEO Renaud Laplanche. LendingClub said on Monday that it improperly sold $22 million of loans to an investor that it was later forced to buy back. The loans were sold to Jefferies, a person with knowledge of the matter said Monday.
The bank had planned to package at least $150 million of loans into bonds and sell them to investors in May, a move designed to provide a new source of funding for LendingClub. Jefferies is halting purchases of LendingClub loans at least temporarily while it reassesses its plan to bundle them into securities alongside Goldman Sachs, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Tuesday that Goldman Sachs is also pausing purchases, citing people familiar with the matter. Michael DuVally, a Goldman Sachs spokesman, declined to comment.
After LendingClub changed its notifications to borrowers, it still had some older loans, the people said. LendingClub found its staff changed the dates on those loan applications, to make them appear to have been made after the company agreed to fix its notifications, the people said. That change would have given Jefferies the impression that the loans were made under the new terms, and were therefore eligible to be bundled into bonds.
When LendingClub said on Monday that it had bought back loans that did not meet an investor's specifications, it didn't say what was wrong with them, apart from saying they "failed to conform to the investor's express instructions as to a non-credit and non-pricing element."
The lender reviewed the situation, and discovered a separate matter: that Laplanche had failed to tell the board that he owned a stake in a fund that the company was considering investing in.