June 21, 2019
LINDA A. LACEWELL CONFIRMED BY SENATE AS NEW YORK SUPERINTENDENT OF FINANCIAL SERVICES
The New York State Senate has confirmed Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s nomination of Linda A. Lacewell as Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS). As DFS Superintendent, Ms. Lacewell is responsible for regulating nearly 1,500 financial institutions with assets of more than $2.6 trillion dollars, and 1,400 insurance companies and 300,000 individual licensees with assets of more than $4.7 trillion. She has served as Acting Superintendent since February following her nomination by Governor Cuomo to lead DFS.
“It is an honor and a privilege to be confirmed as Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services,” Superintendent Lacewell said. “I thank Governor Cuomo and the Members of the New York State Senate for the opportunity to lead this essential agency and I look forward to working with the entire Legislature at a time when it has never been more important to protect consumers, safeguard markets, enforce the law and encourage real financial services innovation.”
Superintendent Lacewell most recently served as Chief of Staff and Counselor to Governor Cuomo. In that role, she oversaw Executive Chamber operations, as well as ethics and law enforcement matters. The Superintendent previously served as executive director of a cancer foundation initiative in Culver City, California. Prior to that, as Chief Risk Officer and Counselor to Governor Cuomo, where she built and implemented the first statewide system for ethics, risk and compliance in agencies and authorities. Ms. Lacewell was formerly special counsel to the Governor, as well as the architect of OpenNY, a state-of-the-art open data initiative. Superintendent Lacewell also served as special counsel to Attorney General Cuomo, where she oversaw the public pension fund pay-to-play investigation and the out-of-network health insurance investigation, both of which led to nationwide systemic reform. Prior to the office of Attorney General, she spent nine years as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, including two years on the Enron Task Force.
During the first 100 days under Acting Superintendent Lacewell’s leadership, DFS has:
- Taken comprehensive steps to protect consumers. At a time when Washington is dismantling vital consumer protections, the Acting Superintendent has refocused DFS on consumer priorities. DFS has opened investigations into Facebook for allegedly secretly accessing consumers’ personal information, into Intuit Turbo Tax and other tax preparers for allegedly steering consumers away from free tax filing options, and into life insurers for reportedly denying nurses who carry opioid overdose reversal medication life insurance coverage, among others. Based on new authority provided by the State Budget, DFS also has announced it will regulate student loan servicers to protect borrowers from abusive practices.
- Established two new divisions to protect consumers and markets: the Cyber Division and the Consumer Protection and Financial Enforcement Division. The new Cyber Division, which will focus on protecting consumers and markets from cyber threats, is the first of its kind to be established at a banking or insurance regulator. It will enforce the Department’s cybersecurity regulations, advise on cybersecurity examinations, issue guidance on DFS’s cybersecurity regulations, and help industry protect itself by disseminating trends and threat information about cyber-attacks. The Consumer Protection and Financial Enforcement Division is responsible for protecting and educating consumers and fighting consumer fraud, as well as ensuring that regulated entities comply with New York and federal law in relation to their activities in serving the public.
- Strengthened the financial services industry. Under Acting Superintendent Lacewell’s leadership, the Department recently approved the acquisition of a federally chartered bank by a New York State-chartered bank, strengthening the New York State banking charter, and expanded the insurance marketplace with the approval of the acquisition of a property-casualty insurer. The Department also recently took possession of a credit union due to unsafe and unsound conditions. Additionally, DFS has expanded its consumer lending and money services markets, approved the organization certificate of a de novo bank, and issued two orders providing New York State chartered credit unions with certain rights and privileges that are enjoyed by their federal counterparts.
- Expanded New York’s virtual currency market. DFS has promoted regulated innovation and expanded New York’s thriving virtual currency marketplace through the approval of new licenses bringing new entrants to the market.
- Guarded against money laundering, sanctions violations and fraud. During the Acting Superintendent’s tenure, DFS has settled enforcement actions totaling nearly $600 million against banks for money laundering and sanctions violations and has worked with other law-enforcement agencies to investigate insurance fraud schemes since February.
- Protected healthcare for all. Under the Acting Superintendent, DFS has defended women’s reproductive rights by holding health insurers accountable for violations of law related to contraceptive coverage and taking action to uphold the Governor’s Women’s Justice Agenda. In addition, DFS has warned insurers to make certain that consumers are not being charged unfair co-pays higher than drug retail prices.
- Codified provisions of the Affordable Care Act and Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. Fighting the Trump Administration's continued attacks on healthcare, DFS has helped the Governor secure a large-scale codification in state law of the crucial consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act, and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. Indeed, DFS went beyond the ACA, codifying a prior DFS regulation that required health plans to cover contraception with no cost-sharing. Further the law provided additional consumer protections, including establishing a formulary exception process and clarifying that the prohibition on discrimination based on sex prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and transgender status. The Superintendent also helped to secure a new law requiring that insurers cover in-vitro fertilization in the large group market.
- Strengthened the agency’s operations while championing diversity. Administratively, Superintendent Lacewell has begun a review and reorganization of the Department’s core functions to better serve consumers and regulated industries, while prioritizing the hiring of a deeply experienced and diverse DFS executive staff, and through external efforts, making diversity a priority for the agency and regulated entities.
Superintendent Lacewell is the recipient of the Henry L. Stimson Medal and the Attorney General's Award for Exceptional Service. She earned her B.A. from New College of the University of South Florida and her J.D. with honors from the University of Miami School of Law. She clerked for a United States District Judge for the Southern District of Florida.
In addition, Superintendent Lacewell serves as an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law, teaching ethics in government, and previously served as an adjunct professor of law at Fordham University School of Law, teaching international criminal law.
Superintendent Lacewell has also been confirmed as a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board and is the Ex Officio Director of the Empire State Development Board.