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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

FinCEN issues OCC-backed statement on risk-based BSA reporting during pandemic

Federal Issues Covid-19 Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FinCEN Bank Secrecy Act Beneficial Ownership Anti-Money Laundering SBA

Federal Issues

On April 3, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) updated its guidance from March 16 regarding Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) reporting and Covid-19-related fraudulent transactions and scams, covered by InfoBytes here. The update provides that banks making Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program loans will not be required to re-verify beneficial ownership for existing customers. In addition, the update advised that a February Currency Transaction Report ruling regarding filing obligations was suspended until further notice. FinCEN reminded financial institutions that BSA compliance obligations are still in place, and also introduced an online contact mechanism to communicate with FinCEN regarding BSA obligations during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On April 7, the OCC issued Bulletin 2020-34 in support of “FinCEN’s Regulatory Relief and Risk-Based Approach.” The agency urged all financial institutions to observe FinCEN’s risk-based approach to BSA/AML compliance obligations, adding that “[c]ompliance with the BSA remains crucial to protecting national security by combating money laundering and related crimes, including terrorism and its financing, during national emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.” The OCC also stated that it will work with financial institutions impacted by Covid-19 regarding reporting obligations, exams and other concerns. 

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