Santander Holdings released from three-year-old enforcement action

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Santander Holdings USA has been released from an enforcement action that had required the Boston company to beef up regulatory compliance and other functions at all of its U.S. business groups.

The Federal Reserve Board authorized the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston to lift its 2015 written agreement against the $135 billion-asset company, Santander said in a news release Thursday.

The Fed had ordered firmwide improvements in compliance, board oversight, risk management, capital planning and liquidity risk management. The agreement applied to the $74 billion-asset Santander Bank, to the company’s subprime auto lender Santander Consumer USA Holdings in Dallas and the company’s other subsidiaries.

Santander Holdings has sought to overcome numerous missteps in recent years, including reaching a settlement with federal regulators in 2015 of charges that its Dallas-based subprime auto subsidiary unlawfully repossessed cars from military members.

Earlier this year, that same subsidiary, Santander Consumer USA Holdings, agreed to settle charges by California’s financial regulator that it violated consumer disclosure laws.

However, the company has made progress in rectifying its problems, as it has had other enforcement actions lifted and its Community Reinvestment Act rating has improved. The Spanish-owned company has made numerous changes to its operations and management, CEO Scott Powell said in a Thursday news release.

“Today’s announcement is our most significant step yet towards resolving our legacy issues,” Powell said. “While we still have work to do, we look forward to building on our momentum as we seek to cement a culture focused on the highest levels of compliance and customer service.”

In one its latest moves, Santander in May moved Mahesh Aditya to chief risk officer from the position of chief operating officer.

After the latest termination, Santander is still subject to one remaining written agreement, issued in 2017 by the Federal Reserve, mandating better oversight of Santander Consumer.

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