Ben Lawsky

AP Photo/Mike Groll

New York's top bank regulator wants to lead the federal government in aggressively cracking down on errant corporations.

Last week the New York Department of Financial Services fined the German Commerzbank $1.4 billion last week, while also requiring the company fire several employees.

"We think New York state can become a real laboratory of democracy when it comes to financial regulation," Ben Lawsky, Superintendent of Financial Services, said last week before University of Albany business students.

Bank regulators in New York are accusing the nation's largest subprime mortgage lender of errors that might have harmed hundreds of thousands of borrowers.

New York's Department of Financial Services accuses Ocwen Financial of backdating letters warning of foreclosure or unsuccessful loan modifications. This means that by the time a borrower receives a letter from Ocwen, it's already too late to do anything about it.

New York’s top banking regulator says he plans to relax pending rules set to govern Bitcoin and other virtual currencies. The more startup-friendly requirements come after criticism that the state has moved too quickly to regulate the new technology.

Futurists see virtual currencies as revolutionizing the financial industry the same way the Internet has revolutionized nearly everything.

New York was the first jurisdiction to introduce rules on Bitcoin. Regulators hope to mark the path for other jurisdictions to follow.

AP/Mike Groll

New York banking regulators are investigating one of the nation's largest non-bank mortgage servicing companies, Ocwen Financial, over worries the company is bilking $65 million a year in kickbacks from both struggling homeowners and investors.

Watchdogs are scrutinizing the controversial, but common, practice of forcing homeowners to buy overpriced property insurance once they fall behind in their mortgage payments.

Charles Lane

The amount of money New York State is receiving in penalties levied against banks is increasing. In the last three months, state coffers have added more than $4.6 billion in bank fines.

The bulk of the money comes from a record settlement against BNP Paribas, a French bank that admitted to violating US sanctions against Iran, Sudan, and Cuba. It was first reported that New York would receive $2.2 billion, but that number ticks up by another billion because New York City will be giving a portion of its penalty to the state.