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  • OCC announces March 2018 enforcement actions and terminations

    Federal Issues

    On March 16, the OCC released a list of recent enforcement actions taken against national banks, federal savings associations, and individuals currently and formerly affiliated with such parties. The new enforcement actions include a cease and desist order, a civil money penalty order, notices filed, and recently terminated enforcement actions. Two notable actions are as follows:

    Cease and Desist Consent Order. On February 12, the OCC issued a consent order against a New Jersey-based bank for deficiencies related to its Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) rules and regulations. Among other things, the consent order requires the bank to (i) appoint an independent third-party consultant to conduct a review of the bank’s BSA/AML compliance program; (ii) review and update a comprehensive BSA/AML compliance action plan and monitoring system; (iii) create a comprehensive training program for “appropriate operational and supervisory personnel, and the Board of Directors, to ensure their awareness of their responsibility for compliance with” the BSA; (iv) develop policies and procedures related to the collection of customer due diligence and enhanced due diligence when opening accounts; (v) appoint a BSA officer; (vi) develop and conduct ongoing BSA/AML risk assessments to monitor accounts for “high-risk customers”; and (vii) conduct a “Look-Back” plan to determine whether suspicious activity was timely identified and reported by the bank and whether additional SARs should be filed for previously unreported suspicious activity. Furthermore, the bank is prohibited from opening new accounts for commercial customers designated as “medium risk or higher” in areas such as “money services businesses, foreign or domestic correspondent banks, payment processors, or cash-intensive businesses” without prior authorization. The bank, while agreeing to the terms of the consent order, has neither admitted nor denied any wrongdoing.

    Termination of enforcement action. On February 14, the OCC terminated a 2002 consent order issued against a Texas-based payday lender after determining that “the safe and sound operation of the banking system does not require the continued existence of” previously issued restrictions. In 2002, the OCC claimed the payday lender engaged in “unsafe and unsound” practices, including violations of ECOA and TILA for failing to safeguard customers’ loan files. Among other things, the consent order fined the payday lender a $250,000 civil money penalty, imposed record-keeping requirements, and prohibited it from “entering into any kind of written or oral agreement to provide any services, including payday lending, to any national bank or its subsidiaries without the prior approval of the OCC.”

    Federal Issues OCC Enforcement Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering Payday Lending Customer Due Diligence

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  • Federal Reserve orders Chinese bank to correct BSA/AML controls

    Financial Crimes

    On March 12, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) entered into a consent order with a Chinese bank (bank) and its New York branch (branch) in connection with alleged Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering (BSA/AML) violations. According to the Fed’s order, a recent examination identified “significant deficiencies” in the branch’s BSA/AML compliance and risk management controls. The consent order requires, among other things, the bank and branch submit within 60 days: (i) a written governance plan to achieve compliance with BSA/AML requirements; (ii) a system to identify and assess risks associated with all products and customers, including “politically exposed persons”; (iii) an enhanced customer due diligence program plan; and (iv) a compliance program to ensure accurate suspicious activity monitoring and reporting. The bank and branch are further required to engage an independent third party acceptable to the Fed to review their dollar-clearing transaction activity in the second half of 2016 “to determine whether suspicious activity involving high-risk customers or transactions” was properly flagged. The order imposes no financial penalty.

    Financial Crimes Federal Reserve Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering Bank Compliance International Customer Due Diligence

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  • OCC announces enforcement action against Washington-based bank citing BSA/AML compliance deficiencies

    Financial Crimes

    On February 28, the OCC issued a consent order against a Washington-based bank for deficiencies related to its Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) compliance program. The consent order requires the bank to, among other things, (i) maintain a Compliance Committee responsible for ensuring the bank adheres to the consent order’s provisions; (ii) appoint a BSA officer who will ensure compliance with the requirements of the BSA and the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s rules and regulations; (iii) implement an enhanced BSA/AML Risk Assessment Program, including the adoption of written policies to ensure the timely review of BSA/AML suspicious activity alerts and the implementation of an automated suspicious activity monitoring system; (iv) conduct a risk-based “Look-Back” to determine whether suspicious activity was timely identified and reported by the bank; (v) develop policies and procedures for enhanced customer due diligence to monitor information for risk; (vi) implement an independent BSA/AML audit program; and (vii) create a comprehensive training program for appropriate bank personnel. The bank did not admit to any wrongdoing in the consent order.

    Financial Crimes OCC Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering Enforcement OFAC SARs Customer Due Diligence

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  • GAO recommends the CFPB review the effectiveness of TRID guidance for small institutions

    Federal Issues

    On February 27, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report of recommendations to financial regulators on actions to take related to the compliance burdens faced by certain small financial institutions. The report is the result of a study the GAO initiated with over 60 community banks and credit unions (collectively, “institutions”) regarding which financial regulations were viewed as the most burdensome. Among others, the report includes a recommendation to the CFPB that it should assess the effectiveness of its TILA/RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule (TRID) guidance and take affirmative steps to address any issues that are necessary. In a response to the GAO that is included in the report, the CFPB Associate Director David Silberman said, “the Bureau agrees with this recommendation and commits to evaluating the effectiveness of its guidance and updating it as appropriate.” Among other recommendations, the GAO highlights the need for the CFPB to coordinate with the other financial regulators on their periodic Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act (EGRPRA) reviews.

    In addition to the compliance concerns with TRID disclosures, the GAO reports that the institutions also consider the data reporting requirements under HMDA, and the transaction reporting and customer due diligence requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act and related anti-money laundering laws the most burdensome. The GAO includes specific recommendations to the other financial regulators to strengthen and streamline regulations through the EGRPRA process.

    Federal Issues GAO CFPB Mortgages TRID HMDA Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering EGRPRA Customer Due Diligence

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  • FinCEN Launches New Exchange to Enhance Information Sharing

    Financial Crimes

    On December 4, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced the release of the “FinCEN Exchange” program, which establishes regular briefings between FinCEN, law enforcement, and financial institutions to share high-priority information regarding potential national security threats and illicit financial transactions. Although private sector participation in the program is voluntary, FinCEN encourages involvement because the briefings may help financial institutions better identify risks and incorporate appropriate information into Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs). In addition, FinCen’s receipt of information will support its efforts to combat financial crimes, including money laundering.

    The CDD Rule became effective on July 11, 2016, and member firms must comply by May 11, 2018. FINRA advises members firms to consult the CDD Rule, along with FinCEN's related FAQs, to ensure AML program compliance.

    Financial Crimes FinCEN SARs Anti-Money Laundering Customer Due Diligence CDD Rule

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  • FINRA Provides Additional Guidance on AML Obligations

    Financial Crimes

    On November 21, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) published additional guidance regarding member firms’ obligations under FINRA Rule 3310, which requires adoption of an anti-money laundering (AML) program. The guidance provided in Regulatory Notice 17-40 follows the Financial Crime Enforcement Network’s (FinCEN) 2016 adoption of a final rule on customer due diligence requirements for financial institutions (CDD Rule). Under the CDD Rule, member firms must now comply with a “fifth pillar,” which requires them to “identify and verify the identity of the beneficial owners of all legal entity customers” at the time when a new account is opened, subject to certain exclusions and exemptions. Additionally, the “fifth pillar” requires member firms to understand the nature and purpose of customer relationships, conduct ongoing monitoring to report suspicious activities and transactions, and maintain and update customer information “on a risk basis.”

    The “fifth pillar” supplements the previously established Bank Secrecy Act AML program requirements, coined the “four pillars,” which require member firms to (i) establish policies and procedures to “achieve compliance”; (ii) conduct independent compliance testing; (iii) designate responsible individuals to implement and monitor AML compliance; and (iv) provide ongoing training.

    The CDD Rule became effective on July 11, 2016, and member firms must comply by May 11, 2018. FINRA advises members firms to consult the CDD Rule, along with FinCEN's related FAQs, to ensure AML program compliance.

    Financial Crimes FinCEN FINRA Anti-Money Laundering Bank Secrecy Act Customer Due Diligence CDD Rule

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  • Colorado Issues Advisory on Entities Required to File UCCC Sales Finance Notifications

    State Issues

    On December 28 of last year, the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, through the Administrator of the Uniform Consumer Credit Code (UCCC), issued an advisory for entities filing sales finance notifications. The advisory strongly recommends that purchasers and assignees of consumer credit transactions subject to the UCCC develop and implement a due diligence process to confirm that the retail credit sellers originating those contracts have filed the proper notice under UCCC Section 5-6-203(4). As explained in the advisory, if notice is not properly filed, consumers “may not have an obligation to pay the finance charge due on those consumer credit transactions.” The list of retail credit sellers who currently file notifications with the department can be accessed here.

    State Issues Consumer Finance Credit Sellers Customer Due Diligence UCCC State Attorney General

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  • FinCEN Issues FAQs Regarding Customer Due Diligence Requirements

    Consumer Finance

    On July 19, FinCEN issued FAQs to clarify the scope of the May 2016 Customer Due Diligence (CDD) final rule. As previously covered in InfoBytes, and as outlined in Question 2 of the recently-released FAQs, the final rule imposes standardized CDD requirements for federally regulated banks and federally insured credit unions, mutual funds, brokers or dealers in securities, futures commission merchants, and introducing brokers in commodities (collectively, covered financial institutions). While the FAQs provide a detailed description of the CDD requirements, they state that, “[i]n short, covered financial institutions are now required to obtain, verify, and record the identities of the beneficial owners of legal entity customers.” Notably, Question 5 of the FAQs clarifies that the CDD rule amends the AML program requirements to explicitly require covered financial institutions to implement and maintain risk-based procedures for conducting ongoing customer due diligence, including, but not limited to, (i) understanding the nature and purpose of the customer relationship; and (ii) conducting ongoing monitoring to identify and report suspicious transactions, as well as maintain and update customer information on a risk basis. The FAQs also note that covered financial institutions must include CDD procedures in their AML compliance program. In addition to discussing definitions for certain terms within the CDD rule, such as “account” and “beneficial owner,” the FAQs outline, among other things, the type of beneficial ownership information that covered financial institutions must collect for legal entity customers. Finally, as reiterated in the FAQs, the CDD rule has an effective date of July 11, 2016 and an applicability date of May 11, 2018.

    Anti-Money Laundering FinCEN Customer Due Diligence CDD Rule Beneficial Ownership

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  • FinCEN Director Calvery Opines on Agency Efforts to Increase Financial Transparency

    Consumer Finance

    On May 24, FinCEN Director Calvery delivered remarks before the House Committee on Financial Services at a hearing entitled “Stopping Terror Finance: A Coordinated Government Effort.” Calvery noted FinCEN’s commitment to fostering an environment of financial transparency, and provided insight on the recent issuance of a final rule, issued on May 6, which clarified customer due diligence (CDD) requirements for financial institutions: “[w]e are confident that the CDD final rule will increase financial transparency and augment the ability of financial institutions and law enforcement to identify the assets and accounts of criminals and national security threats. We anticipate that the CDD rule will also facilitate compliance with sanctions programs and other measures that cut off financial flows to these actors.” Calvery further emphasized the significance of recently proposed beneficial ownership legislation, noting that it and the CDD rule “dovetail together.” Calvery opined that the level of transparency that the proposed legislation and the CDD rule offer would assist law enforcement in identifying who the “real people are that are involved in a transaction,” furthering its efforts to combat money laundering and terrorism, enforce sanctions, and prevent other unlawful abuses of the U.S. financial system. Finally, she noted that the beneficial ownership legislation, if enacted, would provide FinCEN with the ability to collect information on all funds transfers (instead of only monetary instruments, as currently authorized) through the use of geographic targeting orders.

    FinCEN Department of Treasury GTO Customer Due Diligence CDD Rule Beneficial Ownership

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  • FinCEN Deputy Director: Industry Collaboration Key to Finalizing Customer Due Diligence Rule

    Consumer Finance

    On May 16, FinCEN Deputy Director Jamal El-Hindi delivered remarks at the Institute of International Bankers (IIB) Annual Anti-Money Laundering Seminar in New York. The focal point of El-Hindi’s remarks were recent Treasury initiatives, including, (i) the final Customer Due Diligence (CDD) rule; (ii) draft beneficial ownership legislation; and (iii) FinCEN’s use of Geographical Targeting Orders, as addressed in the beneficial ownership draft legislation. The remarks provide an overarching summary of Treasury’s recent regulatory efforts and address the process by which Treasury developed the final CDD rule and the draft beneficial ownership legislation, specifically commenting on and emphasizing FinCEN’s collaborative rulemaking efforts with industry: “I encourage you to keep our conversation going—particularly with respect to support for the beneficial ownership legislation. . . .Please know that FinCEN depends on you, the institutions you represent, and the key feedback and financial intelligence they provide.”

    FinCEN Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Customer Due Diligence CDD Rule

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