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  • FinCEN updates list of FATF-identified jurisdictions with AML/CFT deficiencies

    Financial Crimes

    On October 31, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an advisory reminding financial institutions that, on October 19, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) updated two documents that list jurisdictions identified as having “strategic deficiencies” in their anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regimes. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.) The first document, the FATF Public Statement, identifies two jurisdictions, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran, that are subject to countermeasures and/or enhanced due diligence (EDD) due to their strategic AML/CFT deficiencies. The second document, Improving Global AML/CFT Compliance: On-going Process - 19 October 2018, identifies jurisdictions with strategic AML/CFT deficiencies that have developed an action plan with the FATF to address those deficiencies: the Bahamas, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Pakistan, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, and Yemen. Notably, the Bahamas, Botswana and Ghana have been added to the list due to the lack of effective implementation of their AML/CFT frameworks. FinCEN urges financial institutions to consider both the FATF Public Statement and the Improving Global AML/CFT Compliance: On-going Process documents when reviewing due diligence obligations and risk-based policies, procedures, and practices.

    Financial Crimes FinCEN Anti-Money Laundering Combating the Financing of Terrorism FATF

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  • FATF updates standards to prevent misuse of virtual assets; reviews progress on jurisdictions with AML/CFT deficiencies

    Financial Crimes

    On October 19, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) issued a statement urging all countries to take measures to prevent virtual assets and cryptocurrencies from being used to finance crime and terrorism. FATF updated The FATF Recommendations to add new definitions for “virtual assets” and “virtual asset service providers” and to clarify how the recommendations apply to financial activities involving virtual assets and cryptocurrencies. FATF also stated that virtual asset service providers are subject to Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regulations, which require conducting customer due diligence, such as ongoing monitoring, record-keeping, and suspicious transaction reporting, and commented that virtual asset service providers should be licensed or registered and will be subject to compliance monitoring. However, FATF noted that its recommendations “require monitoring or supervision only for purposes of AML/CFT, and do not imply that virtual asset service providers are (or should be) subject to stability or consumer/investor protection safeguards.”

    The same day, FATF announced that several countries made “high-level political commitment[s]” to address AML/CFT strategic deficiencies through action plans developed to strengthen compliance with FATF standards. These jurisdictions are the Bahamas, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Pakistan, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, and Yemen. FATF also issued a public statement calling for continued counter-measures against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea due to significant AML/CFT deficiencies and the threats posed to the integrity of the international financial system, and enhanced due diligence measures with respect to Iran. However, FATF will continue its suspension of counter-measures due to Iran’s political commitment to address its strategic AML/CFT deficiencies.

    Financial Crimes Digital Assets FATF Anti-Money Laundering Combating the Financing of Terrorism Cryptocurrency Fintech Customer Due Diligence SARs

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  • FinCEN Issues Advisory Regarding FATF-Identified Jurisdictions With AML/CFT Deficiencies

    Financial Crimes

    On September 15, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an advisory to financial institutions based on June 23, 2017 updates to the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) list of jurisdictions identified as having “strategic deficiencies” in their anti-money laundering/combatting the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regimes. FinCEN urges financial institutions to consider this list when reviewing due diligence obligations and risk-based policies, procedures, and practices.

    The current jurisdictions (as further described in the Improving Global AML/CFT Compliance: On-going Process) that have AML/CFT deficiencies for which they have developed an action plan are: Bosnia and Herzegovina; Ethiopia; Iraq; Syria; Uganda; Vanuatu; and Yemen. Notably, Afghanistan and Lao PDR have been removed from this list for making “significant technical progress in improving [their] AML/CFT regime[s] and . . . establish[ing] the legal and regulatory framework to meet [their] commitments in [their] action plan[s].” North Korea, officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and Iran remain the two jurisdictions subject to countermeasures and enhanced due diligence (or EDD) due to AML/CFT deficiencies.

    Financial Crimes FinCEN Anti-Money Laundering FATF Combating the Financing of Terrorism

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  • U.S. and Saudi Arabia Agree to Enhance Counter Terrorist Financing Capabilities

    Financial Crimes

    On May 21, the Treasury Department announced an agreement between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to establish a Terrorist Financing Targeting Center as a collaborative effort between the two countries and several Persian Gulf nations, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The new center is intended to (i) enhance information-sharing regarding terrorist financial networks; (ii) coordinate action on sanctions; and (iii) facilitate technical assistance for participating countries that need support developing their counter terrorist programs and provide best practices guidance “in line with Financial Action Task Force standards.” The participants intend to implement the outlined activities immediately.

    Financial Crimes Combating the Financing of Terrorism FATF

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  • FATF Updates List of Jurisdictions with AML/CFT Deficiencies, FinCEN Issues Related Advisory

    Federal Issues

    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/combating the financing of terrorism (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.

    Anti-Money Laundering FinCEN Bank Secrecy Act FATF Combating the Financing of Terrorism

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  • FinCEN Issues Advisory on FATF's List of Jurisdictions with AML/CFT Deficiencies

    Federal Issues

    On July 20, FinCEN issued an advisory to financial institutions with updates to the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) list of jurisdictions containing strategic anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing (AML/CFT) deficiencies. According to FinCEN’s Advisory, on June 26, FATF updated two documents to reflect changes that have the potential to affect U.S. financial institutions’ due diligence obligations and risk-based policies, procedures, and practices. The first document, the FATF Public Statement, identifies jurisdictions that are subject to Enhanced Due Diligence or countermeasures due to the jurisdiction’s AML/CFT deficiencies. Revisions to the FATF Public Statement include the removal of Ecuador from the Public Statement because of progress in addressing its FATF action plan. Ecuador now appears on the list of jurisdictions requiring general due diligence. The second document to be updated, Improving Global AML/CFT Compliance: On-going Process, identifies new jurisdictions with AML/CFT deficiencies. Bosnia and Herzegovina have been downgraded to the Improving Global AML/CFT Compliance: On-going Process document due to its “strategic deficiencies in its AML/CFT regime." However, the country has made a “high-level political commitment” to work with FATF and regional authorities to address their deficiencies. Indonesia was removed from the listing and monitoring process, according to the Advisory, for “its significant progress in establishing the legal and regulatory framework to address all or nearly all of its strategic AML/CFT deficiencies.”

    Anti-Money Laundering FinCEN FATF Combating the Financing of Terrorism Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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  • Financial Action Task Force Issues Guidance Urging Risk-Based Approach to Virtual Currencies and Services

    Fintech

    On June 29, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) issued a report, Guidance for a Risk-Based Approach to Virtual Currencies,part of a staged approach focusing on the points of intersection that provide gateways to the regulated financial system, in particular, convertible virtual currency exchangers.  The Guidance explains the application of the risk-based approach to AML/CFT measures in the virtual currency context, identify the entities involved in virtual currency payment products and services (VCPPS), and clarify the application of the relevant FATF Recommendations to convertible virtual currency exchangers.  The guidance provides, among other things, recommendations and encourages member nations to adopt regulations and guidelines similar to those applicable to traditional financial institutions to reduce risk exposure to the banking system.

    Payment Systems Anti-Money Laundering Virtual Currency FATF Combating the Financing of Terrorism

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