New York Attorney General Announces Settlements Over Data Collection Practices

On February 9, the New York Attorney General’s (NYAG’s) office announced two settlements with mobile app developers who allegedly omitted information about their data collection practices in their privacy policies. While the investigation revealed that neither developer misused their customers’ personal information or improperly disclosed such information to third parties, the NYAG’s office determined that both companies failed to properly disclose the fact that they had collected the information as required by law. Both companies have agreed to add privacy policies to their apps.

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Georgia Attorney General Orders Payday Lenders to Pay $40 Million in Civil Monetary Penalty and Restitution to Consumers

On February 8, the Office of the Georgia Attorney General announced that it had entered into a settlement agreement with two payday lenders over claims that the companies violated the state’s Payday Lending Act, which prohibits unlicensed loans of $3,000 or less. While the interest rate for loans made under the Payday Lending Act is capped at 10 percent, the unlicensed lenders in this case allegedly issued over 18,000 loans with interest rates ranging from 140 percent to 340 percent and collected over $32 million in associated interest and fees since 2010. According to the terms of the settlement, the companies are required to (i) pay $23.5 million in consumer restitution; (ii) cease all collections and forgive all outstanding loans; (iii) pay a $1 million civil penalty to the state; and (iv) pay $500,000 as reimbursement for the state’s attorneys’ fees and costs.

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State Financial Regulators Release BSA/AML Compliance Tool

On February 1, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) announced the release of its BSA/AML Self-Assessment Tool—a new, voluntary tool to help banks and non-depository financial institutions better manage Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) risk. Building upon CSBS’s efforts to help banks understand their risk exposure to third-parties, the self-assessment tool—developed jointly by the CSBS and state regulators—aims to help institutions better identify, monitor, and communicate BSA/AML risk, thereby reducing some of the burden and uncertainty surrounding compliance and facilitating more transparency within the financial sector. The self-assessment tool is available for use by any institution and may be accessed here.  A narrated tutorial is also available here.  Last year, CSBS released a white paper that outlines state supervision of money services businesses.

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Global Money Services Business Reaches Settlements with 49 States and the District of Columbia

On January 31, state attorneys general from 49 states and the District of Columbia announced a $5 million settlement with a global money services business that resolves investigations into allegations that scammers used the company’s wire transfer services to defraud consumers over a period of 9 years. The company agreed to implement an anti-fraud program as part of the settlement, with the settlement funds paying for the states’ costs and fees. As discussed previously on InfoBytes, the company recently entered a $586 million settlement with the DOJ in connection with similar AML-related claims, which will be used for refunds to the victims of fraud-induced wire transfers.

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NYDFS Fines German Bank $425 Million for Deficient Money Laundering Controls

On January 30, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) announced that it had assessed a $425 million fine against a German bank as part of a consent order addressing allegations that the bank allowed $10 billion in “mirror trades” involving Russian investors by failing to properly enforce protections against money laundering. According to the press release, the bank and several of its senior managers allegedly “missed key opportunities to detect, intercept and investigate a long-running mirror-trading scheme facilitated by its Moscow branch and involving New York and London branches.” Specifically, the consent order claims the bank (i) conducted its business in an unsafe and unsound matter; (ii) implemented weak “Know Your Customer” processes; (iii) failed to accurately rate its country and client risks for money laundering throughout the relevant time period and lacked a global policy benchmarking its risk appetite; (iv) maintained ineffective, understaffed anti-financial crime, AML, and compliance units; and (v) had a flawed corporate structure and organization.

In addition to the $425 million monetary penalty, the bank must, within 60 days of the consent order, engage an independent monitor to “conduct a comprehensive review of the [b]ank’s existing BSA/AML compliance programs, policies and procedures.” Furthermore, the bank must submit in writing for NYDFS review an action plan outlining enhancements to its current BSA/AML compliance programs.

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