Benjamin D. Velella Of Counsel

     

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Benjamin Velella is a highly experienced attorney with more than 30 years’ experience as a national bank in-house counsel, giving him inside knowledge of how to balance the legal and business needs of institutional clients. Ben has in-depth knowledge of electronic banking; fraud deterrence; litigation and major claims management, including inquiries by CFPB, OCC and other regulatory agencies; anti−money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act compliance; elder financial abuse concerns; subpoena compliance, restraining orders, levies and attachments compliance; and UCC Articles 3 and 4, with an emphasis on check collection issues, including mobile and remote check deposits. Ben has been a presenter at seminars on the subject of Bank Payment Issues for financial institution attorneys and managers. 

During Ben’s lengthy career with Citibank, N.A., he ascended to the position of director and associate general counsel, charged with managing the portfolio of litigation and claims brought against the institution’s U.S. Consumer Bank. During his tenure, and as a result of policies he instituted to aggressively analyze and attempt to resolve claims presented to the bank before litigation, the number of lawsuits asserted against the Consumer Bank was reduced by more than 60 percent. This reduction brought with it a corresponding reduction in legal fees expended by the bank along with reduced settlement costs as claims with merit tended to be resolved at an earlier stage of conflict for smaller sums. 

Areas of Focus

Collections
While in-house at Citibank, Ben developed a protocol for pursuing the recovery of account-related controllable or operating losses, including the strategic use of litigation where appropriate, and managed cases that resulted in a combined seven-figure recovery in some years. Ben adapted this protocol for use by outside counsel after leaving Citibank. 

Regulatory Matters
Ben served as Citibank’s point counsel and interface on regulatory inquiries, audits and consumer complaint matters issued from the CFPB, Federal Reserve, OCC, or various state attorney general’s offices and financial services regulatory bodies. 

Risk Management
Ben drafted policies and procedures for Citibank’s subpoena, restraining orders and other legal service compliance and long served as counsel to bank departments on issues associated with the service of process on the institution, including the management of data production requests. 

Liability Issues
Given his extensive experience with consumer and commercial banking products and services, and the analysis and resolution of claims and disputes arising out of those processes and procedures, Ben is uniquely equipped to provide effective counsel to financial institutions grappling with claims, litigation regulatory inquiries/examinations and large dollar recovery matters.