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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

FinCEN reaches $390 million settlement with bank for BSA violations

Federal Issues FinCEN Enforcement Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering Financial Crimes

Federal Issues

On January 15, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced a $390 million civil money penalty against a national bank for allegedly violating the Bank Secrecy Act and its implementing regulations. The settlement resolves an investigation into the bank’s alleged failure to maintain an effective anti-money laundering (AML) program. According to FinCEN, the bank’s check-cashing business unit failed to file thousands of suspicious activity reports (SARs) and currency transaction reports (CTR). As a result, suspicious transactions were not reported in a timely and accurate manner. FinCen noted that while the bank was allegedly aware of several compliance and money laundering risks associated with its check-cashing business unit, its process for investigating suspicious transactions was insufficient. The bank also allegedly failed to file SARs even though it had actual knowledge of criminal charges against specific customers and continued to process transactions for these customers’ businesses. In determining the penalty, FinCEN considered the bank’s significant remediation efforts—including taking remedial measures related to its SARs and CTR filing systems and enhancing its AML program over the past several years—as well as its cooperation with the agency’s investigation.

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