On September 7, FinCEN issued advisory bulletin FIN-2016-A004 notifying financial institutions of updates to the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) list of jurisdictions containing anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing (AML/CFT) deficiencies. The FATF updated two documents categorizing certain jurisdictions: (i) the FATF Public Statement, identifying jurisdictions that are subject to the FATF’s call for countermeasures or are subject to Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD) due to AML/CFT deficiencies; and (ii) the Improving Global AML/CFT Compliance: on-going process, identifying jurisdictions which have developed an action plan with the FATF to address strategic AML/CFT deficiencies. Revisions to the FATF Public Statement include the 12 months suspension of FATF’s call for countermeasures against Iran; in turn, Iran was added to the EDD category based on the continued risk posed by Iran to the international financial system. North Korea remains the sole country subject to countermeasures. Jurisdictions currently on the Improving Global AML/CFT Compliance: on-going process list include Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Guyana, Iraq, Lao PDR, Syria, Uganda, Vanuatu, and Yemen. Myanmar (Burma) and Papua New Guinea were removed from the list. FinCEN reminded financial institutions that they are subject to a broad range of restrictions on dealing with North Korea and Iran, in spite of the 12-month suspension of its call for countermeasures against Iran.
On September 14, the OCC released its bank supervision operating plan for fiscal year 2017. The plan identifies the OCC’s priority objectives, which include: (i) commercial and retail loan underwriting; (ii) business model sustainability and viability; (iii) operational resiliency; (iv) BSA/AML compliance; and (v) processes to address regulatory changes. Moreover, the plan affirms that the OCC will look at each individual bank’s key risks, and will continue the process of stress testing, both for large banks and for midsize and community banks.
On August 30, the Department of the Treasury, along with the OCC, FDIC, Federal Reserve and NCUA, issued a joint fact sheet on foreign correspondent banking. The fact sheet provides a summary of the agencies’ (i) expectations for BSA/AML and OFAC risk management at U.S. depository institutions; (ii) risk-based approach to the supervisory examination process; and (iii) use of enforcement as an “extension of the supervisory process.” As highlighted in a corresponding blog post, the fact sheet explains that about “95% of BSA/OFAC compliance deficiencies identified by the [Federal Banking Agencies], FinCEN, and OFAC are corrected by the institution’s management without the need for any enforcement action or penalty.” The fact sheet notes that, under existing regulations there is no general requirement for depository institutions to conduct due diligence on an individual customer of a foreign financial institution (FFI). But it also notes that “[i]n determining the appropriate level of due diligence necessary for an FFI relationship, U.S. depository institutions should consider the extent to which information related to the FFI’s markets and types of customers is necessary to assess the risks posed by the relationship, satisfy the institution’s obligations to detect and report suspicious activity, and comply with U.S. economic sanctions. This may require U.S. depository institutions to request additional information concerning the activity underlying the FFI’s transactions in accordance with the suspicious activity reporting rules and sanctions compliance obligations.”
On August 26, FinCEN published a proposed rule that seeks to impose AML program requirements on banks that are without a Federal functional regulator, including, but not limited to, private banks, non-federally insured credit unions, and certain trust companies. FinCEN estimates that there are 740 such banks nationwide. The proposal would establish minimum AML program standards for such banks. In addition, if finalized, the proposed rule would expand the reach of FinCEN’s customer due diligence final rule to cover banks that are not already subject to the rule’s customer identification program requirements and beneficial ownership requirements. FinCEN issued the proposal to ensure that Bank Secrecy Act coverage is consistent across the industry. Comments on the proposal must be submitted to FinCEN by October 24, 2016.
On August 16, FinCEN named Thomas P. Ott Associate Director for FinCEN’s Enforcement Division. In his new role, Ott will oversee the agency’s Bank Secrecy Act compliance and enforcement program. Ott’s responsibilities will include “developing and implementing compliance and enforcement strategies, supervising investigations, enforcement actions, and other activities that have industry-wide, national, and international impact.” Ott has served as FinCEN’s Acting Associate Director of Enforcement since March 2016.