FinCEN Proposes SAR Data Fields Revisions

FinCEN published, at 82 FR 9109 in the Federal Register, a notice and request for comment on proposed updates and revisions to the collection of information filings by financial institutions required to file such reports under the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”). While the notice does not propose any new regulatory requirements or changes to the requirements related to suspicious activity reporting, it suggests changes to the required data fields used when filing SARs under the BSA. The majority of the proposed changes would alter the “checklist” of violations in Part II of the filings, including the addition of several fields related to cyber events. Written comments must be received on or before April 3.

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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 Service Business Settles Alleged AML and Consumer Fraud Allegations; Fined $586 Million in Settlement

On January 19, the DOJ announced that it had entered into Deferred Prosecution Agreement with a global money services business regarding allegations the company failed to maintain effective anti-money laundering program and aiding and abetting wire fraud. The announcement claims that between 2004 and 2012, the company “violated U.S. laws—the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and anti-fraud statutes—by processing hundreds of thousands of transactions for Western Union agents and others involved in an international consumer fraud scheme.”  Under the terms of the Agreement, the business must forfeit $586 million and “implement and maintain a comprehensive anti-fraud program with training for its agents and their front line associates, monitoring to detect and prevent fraud-induced money transfers, due diligence on all new and renewing company agents, and suspension or termination of noncompliant agents.”

In a related case, the company also agreed to a consent order with the FTC to resolve parallel allegations by the FTC in a complaint filed on January 19 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The complaint alleges that the company’s conduct violated Section 5 of the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule.

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FDIC Announces New Regulatory Actions Against Florida-based Bank

On December 30, the FDIC announced new regulatory actions against a Florida-based bank. Along with the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, the FDIC issued a new Consent Order against the $121.5 million-asset bank, based on allegations that the bank had engaged in “unsafe or unsound” banking practices, or practices which constituted a violation of law or regulation in the following areas: (i) weakness in asset quality, (ii) capital adequacy, earnings, (iii) management effectiveness, (iv) liquidity, (v) sensitivity to market risk, and (vi) compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).

Among other things, the Order notes that the bank currently falls short of FDIC requirements for qualifying as “well capitalized,” qualifying merely as “adequately capitalized,” and therefore must boost its capital levels or face continued restrictions on its operations. The Order also states that the bank—which consented to the Order without admitting or denying the charges—now has 120 days to meet its capital requirements and 60 days to submit a capital plan to both: (i) achieve and maintain the capital requirements; and (ii) provide for a contingency plan to sell or merge the bank.

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FINRA Fines Brokerage Firm $5.75M for Lax Anti-Money Laundering Program

On December 28, FINRA entered into an acceptance, waiver, and consent (AWC) agreement with a Puerto-Rican-based brokerage firm based upon allegations that the firm’s anti-money laundering (AML) program “was not reasonably designed to achieve and monitor compliance with the requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act.” In deciding to levy a $5.75 million fine, FINRA noted, among other things, that the firm improperly “relied on manual supervisory review of securities transactions” that was “not sufficiently focused on AML risks.” The firm neither admitted nor denied the findings set forth in the AWC agreement, but agreed to address deficiencies in their AML program within 180 days. According to a firm spokeswoman, the firm is “pleased to have this matter from 2013 resolved and we continue to improve, manage and monitor our AML efforts.”

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