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June 23, 2024 Clouds | 87°F
The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 14: Investigations and examinations

Section 14. (a) The commissioner shall have the authority to conduct investigations and examinations for: (i) purposes of initial licensing, license renewal, license suspension, license conditioning, license revocation or termination, or general or specific inquiry or investigation to determine compliance with this chapter, the commissioner shall have the authority to access, receive and use any books, accounts, records, files, documents, information or evidence including, but not limited to: (1) criminal, civil and administrative history information, including non-conviction data as specified in applicable provisions of the General Laws; (2) personal history and experience information including independent credit reports obtained from a consumer reporting agency described in section 603(p) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act; and (3) any other documents, information or evidence the commissioner deems relevant to the inquiry or investigation regardless of the location, possession, control or custody of such documents, information or evidence; and (ii) the purposes of investigating violations or complaints arising under this chapter, or for the purposes of examination, the commissioner may review, investigate, or examine any licensee, individual or person subject to this chapter, in order to carry out the purposes of this chapter.

(b) Each licensee or person subject to this chapter shall make available to the commissioner upon request the books and records relating to the operations of such licensee, individual or person. The commissioner shall have access to such books and records and interview the officers, principals, mortgage loan originators, employees, independent contractors, agents, and customers of the licensee, individual or person subject to this chapter concerning their business.

(c) Each licensee or person subject to this chapter shall make or compile reports or prepare other information as directed by the commissioner in order to carry out the purposes of this section including, but not limited to: (i) accounting compilations; (ii) information lists and data concerning loan transactions in a format prescribed by the commissioner; or (iii) such other information deemed necessary to carry out the purposes of this section.

(d) In making any examination or investigation authorized by this chapter, the commissioner may control access to any documents and records of the licensee or person under examination or investigation. The commissioner may take possession of the documents and records or place a person in exclusive charge of the documents and records in the place where they are usually kept. During the period of control, no individual or person shall remove or attempt to remove any of the documents and records except pursuant to a court order or with the consent of the commissioner. Unless the commissioner has reasonable grounds to believe the documents or records of the licensee have been, or are at risk of being altered or destroyed for purposes of concealing a violation of this chapter, the licensee or owner of the documents and records shall have access to the documents or records as necessary to conduct its ordinary business affairs.

The commissioner shall preserve a full record of each such examination of a licensee. All records of investigation and reports of examination by the commissioner including, but not limited to, work papers, information derived from such reports or in response to such reports, and any copies thereof in the possession of any licensee under the supervision of the commissioner, shall be confidential and privileged communications, shall not be subject to subpoena and shall not be a public record under clause Twenty-sixth of section 7 of chapter 4. For the purpose of this paragraph, records of investigation and reports of examinations shall include records of investigation and reports of examinations conducted by any bank regulatory agency of the federal government and any other state, and of any foreign government which are considered confidential by such agency or foreign government and which are in possession of the commissioner. In any proceeding before a court, the court may issue a protective order to seal the record protecting the confidentiality of any such record, other than any such record on file with the court or filed in connection with the court proceeding, and the court may exclude the public from any portion of a proceeding at which any such record may be disclosed. Copies of such reports of examination shall be furnished to a licensee for its use only and shall not be exhibited to any other person, organization or agency without prior written approval by the commissioner. The commissioner may furnish to regulatory agencies of the federal government, of other states, or of foreign countries and any law enforcement agency, such information, reports, inspections and statements relating to the licensees under his supervision.

(e) In order to carry out the purposes of this section, the commissioner may: (i) retain attorneys, accountants, or other professionals and specialists as examiners, auditors, or investigators to conduct or assist in the conduct of examinations or investigations; (ii) enter into agreements or relationships with other government officials or regulatory associations in order to improve efficiencies and reduce regulatory burden by sharing resources, standardized or uniform methods or procedures, and documents, records, information or evidence obtained under this section; (iii) use, hire, contract or employ public or privately available analytical systems, methods or software to examine or investigate the licensee, individual or person subject to this chapter; (iv) accept and rely on examination or investigation reports made by other government officials, within or without the commonwealth; or (v) accept audit reports made by an independent certified public accountant for the licensee, individual or person subject to this chapter in the course of that part of the examination covering the same general subject matter as the audit and may incorporate the audit report in the report of the examination, report of investigation or other writing of the commissioner.

(f) No person subject to this chapter shall knowingly withhold, abstract, remove, mutilate, destroy, or secrete any books, records, computer records, or other information unless otherwise authorized by law or regulation.