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  • Senate Banking Committee: Sharpen the Focus of AML/BSA Enforcement and Oversight

    Financial Crimes

    On December 9, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held a hearing entitled, “Combating Money Laundering and Other Forms of Illicit Finance: Opportunities to Reform and Strengthen BSA Enforcement” to discuss anti-money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act (AML/BSA) enforcement and compliance. Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) opened the hearing by stating that Congress and financial regulators must examine and address “decades-old” Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering requirements in order “to sharpen the focus, sustainability and enforcement of a modernized, more efficient U.S. counter-threat-finance architecture.” During the hearing, the Committee stressed the need to move towards a more targeted, strengthened AML framework so that banks, law enforcement, and regulators can focus on specific threats such as the financing of terrorism and sanctions evasions.

    The three witnesses offered numerous insights related to reforming AML/BSA enforcement and regulatory structures, including: (i) establishing an approach that would utilize and track intelligence and analysis rather than focusing primarily on quantifiable metrics; (ii) increasing inter-agency coordination and improving information sharing between financial institutions and regulators, and among financial institutions themselves; (iii) recognizing the importance of law enforcement participation, specifically related to the sharing of suspicious activity reports; (iv) encouraging the participation of entities outside of the banking sector, such as persons involved in real estate or those acting as proxies for financial system access; (v) supporting beneficial ownership legislation for companies formed in the United States; and (v) understanding the ways in which financial institutions are addressing the anonymity of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. The witnesses were:

    • Mr. Dennis Lormel, President and CEO, DML Associates and former Chief, FBI Financial Crimes Program (testimony);
    • Mr. Greg Baer, President, The Clearing House Association (testimony); and
    • Ms. Heather Lowe, Legal Counsel and Director of Government Affairs, Global Financial Integrity (testimony).

    Financial Crimes Senate Banking Committee Anti-Money Laundering Bank Secrecy Act SARs Cryptocurrency Virtual Currency Blockchain

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  • FINRA releases 2018 Regulatory and Examinations Priorities Letter

    Securities

    On January 8, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) published its Annual Regulatory and Examination Priorities Letter (2018 Letter), which focused on several broad issues within the securities industry, including improving the examination program to “implement a risk-based framework designed to better align examination resources to the risk profile of [] member firms.” As previously covered in InfoBytes, last July FINRA360 (a comprehensive self-evaluation and organizational improvement initiative) prompted the organization to announce plans currently underway to enhance operations by consolidating its existing enforcement teams into a single unit. In the 2018 Letter, FINRA announced ongoing efforts to work with member firms to understand the risks and benefits of fintech innovation such as blockchain technology, as well as the impact initial coin offerings (ICOs) and digital currencies have on broker-dealers.

    Additional areas of regulatory and examination focus for FINRA in 2018 will include: (i) fraudulent activities and suspicious activity report filing requirements; (ii) business continuity planning; (iii) protection and verification of customer assets, including whether firms have implemented adequate controls and supervision methods along with measuring the effectiveness of cybersecurity programs; (iv) anti-money laundering monitoring and surveillance resources and policies and procedures; and (v) the role firms and other registered representatives play when effecting transactions in cryptocurrencies and ICOs—specifically with regard to the supervisory, compliance and operational infrastructure firms implement to “ensure compliance with relevant federal securities laws and regulations and FINRA rules.”

    Securities Fintech FINRA Examination Fraud Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Anti-Money Laundering Initial Coin Offerings Virtual Currency SARs Blockchain Financial Crimes

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  • OCC fines national bank for failing to fix BSA deficiencies

    Financial Crimes

    On January 4, the OCC issued a consent order assessing a $70 million civil money penalty against a national bank for failing to comply with the agency’s 2012 cease and desist consent order related to Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and anti-money laundering (AML) deficiencies. The 2012 order cited the bank for, among other things, failing to file suspicious activity reports in a timely manner and weaknesses in controls related to its correspondent banking from deposit capture/international cash letter instrument activity. According to the OCC, the $70 million civil money penalty results from the bank’s failure “to complete corrective actions to address BSA/AML compliance issues as required by the [2012] order.”

    Financial Crimes OCC Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering SARs

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  • NYDFS fines global money service $60 million for AML deficiencies

    Financial Crimes

    On January 4, New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) ordered one of the largest global money transfer services to pay $60 million for willfully failing to implement an effective anti-money laundering (AML) program. According to the consent order, between 2004 and 2012, three of the company’s New York locations allowed the company’s services to be used to pay debts to human traffickers based in China. Additionally, the order emphasizes that the company was aware of weaknesses in its compliance program for years and failed to implement controls that could have detected and prevented the payments in question. The NYDFS investigation resulted from a January 2017 settlement with the Department of Justice, which found that during the same time period (2004-2012), the company processed hundreds of thousands of transactions for company agents and others involved in an international consumer fraud scheme, as previously covered by InfoBytes. In addition to the fine, the order requires that the company put in place stricter AML compliance measures, including the creation of an Independent Compliance Committee of the Board of Directors.

    Financial Crimes NYDFS Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering Bank Compliance International

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  • NYDFS Orders Korean Bank to Pay $11 Million Civil Money Penalty for BSA/AML Compliance Deficiencies

    Financial Crimes

    On December 21, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) entered into a consent order with a Korean bank and its New York branch to resolve issues regarding alleged deficiencies in the branch’s Bank Secrecy Act and other anti-money laundering (BSA/AML) compliance and risk management. The alleged deficiencies were discovered during three examinations between 2014-2016 by NYDFS and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. According to the consent order, among other things, the branch failed to maintain adequate transaction monitoring and suspicious activity reporting (SAR), lacked compliance staff with proper BSA/AML background experience, and lacked adequate BSA/AML and OFAC risk assessments.

    The Korean bank and its branch are required to pay an $11 million civil money penalty, and in addition must submit the following documentation (i) a BSA/AML compliance program; (ii) a customer due-diligence program; (iii) a SAR program; (iv) a revised internal audit program; and (v) a plan to enhance oversight of the branch’s BSA/AML compliance requirements. The Korean bank and branch are also required to submit quarterly reports for two years with updates on the branch’s compliance progress.

    Financial Crimes NYDFS Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering SARs Settlement

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  • Federal Reserve Issues Consent Order to Bank for BSA/AML Compliance Deficiencies

    Financial Crimes

    On December 14, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) entered into a consent order with an international bank regarding alleged deficiencies in the bank’s New York branch (Branch) Bank Secrecy Act and other anti-money laundering (BSA/AML) compliance and risk management. The consent order also relates to a 2009 written agreement among the bank, the Branch and the predecessor of the New York State Department of Financial Services, which cited BSA/AML compliance and risk management deficiencies identified by examiners in regards to the Branch’s correspondent banking services and U.S. dollar funds transfer clearing. In 2016, a Fed examination found that the bank and the Branch had not achieved full compliance with the requirements in the 2009 agreement.

    The 2017 order, among other things, requires the bank and Branch to submit a written governance plan to achieve compliance with BSA/AML requirements, and to engage an independent third party acceptable to the Fed to conduct and report on a comprehensive review of Branch’s BSA/AML compliance. Within 60 days of the report findings, the bank and Branch must submit an enhanced compliance program plan, an enhanced customer due diligence program plan, and a program to ensure accurate suspicious activity monitoring and reporting. 

    Financial Crimes Federal Reserve Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering

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  • Former Aircraft Manufacturer Sales Executive Pleads Guilty to Saudi Arabian Bribery

    Financial Crimes

    A former sales executive of a Brazilian-based aircraft manufacturer pleaded guilty on December 21 in connection with a scheme to pay bribes to a Saudi Arabian government official. The sales executive, a U.K. resident living in the United Arab Emirates, pleaded guilty to a count each of violating the FCPA, conspiracy to violate the FCPA, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy to launder money, and making a false statement. As part of his plea, he admitted that he engaged in a scheme to have the manufacturer pay bribes to a foreign official in exchange for assistance in getting an aircraft sales contract. The sales executive also admitted getting a kickback as part of the scheme and lying to law enforcement officials about the kickback.

    The manufacturer previously paid $205 million to the DOJ and SEC in October 2016 to resolve related FCPA violations in Saudi Arabia, Mozambique, and the Dominican Republic. 

    Financial Crimes International FCPA Anti-Money Laundering DOJ

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  • OCC Recent Enforcement Actions Target BSA/AML Compliance Programs and National Flood Insurance Act Violations

    Federal Issues

    On December 14, 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 cease and desist orders, civil money penalty orders, removal/prohibition orders, and restitution orders. The list also includes recently terminated enforcement actions.

    Cease and Desist Order. On November 9, the OCC issued a consent order (2017 Order) two days after converting a Japanese bank’s two New York branches under the supervision of the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) to federally licensed branches under the supervision of the OCC. As part of the OCC’s approval process, the bank’s federal branches and New York branches agreed to the issuance of the 2017 Order, which requires adherence to “remedial provisions . . . substantively the same as those” in consent orders entered into in 2013 and 2014 with NYDFS. The previously issued consent orders addressed deficiencies related to the bank’s Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) sanctions compliance programs, specifically concerning the removal of key warnings to regulators on transactions with sanctioned countries.

    The 2017 Order, among other things, requires the bank to: (i) submit an action plan on enhancing internal controls and updating policies and procedures to correct BSA/AML deficiencies, address provisions applicable under the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s requirements, and implement requirements outlined in the 2013 and 2014 consent orders; (ii) ensure adherence to the action plan and 2017 Order under the direction of the bank’s general manager; (iii) submit a management oversight plan designed to improve and enhance the bank’s sanctions compliance programs; and (iv) prevent the retention or future engagement of any individual identified and “barred by the 2014 Consent Order from engaging, directly or indirectly, in any duties, responsibilities, or activities at or on behalf of the [b]ank or the [b]ank’s affiliates that involve their banking business in the [U.S.].” The 2017 Order does not require the bank to pay a civil monetary penalty.

    Civil Monetary Penalty. On October 10, the OCC assessed a $452,000 civil monetary penalty against a national bank lender for alleged violations of the National Flood Insurance Act and/or the Flood Disaster Protection Act. The bank agreed to pay the penalty without admitting or denying any wrongdoing. 

    Federal Issues OCC Enforcement Compliance Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering OFAC NYDFS Financial Crimes Flood Insurance Sanctions

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  • Court Reduces Sentence for Former Cayman Islands Soccer Executive Who Pleaded Guilty in International Soccer Association Investigation

    Financial Crimes

    On December 12, Judge Chen of the U.S. District Court for the E.D.N.Y. amended the recent sentence entered against a former general secretary of a Cayman Islands football association. On October 31, he was sentenced to serve 15 months in prison, pay $3 million in restitution, and observe a ban from international soccer organizations. Under the amended sentence, he was credited 10 months for time served in a Swiss jail prior to extradition; the other terms remained the same. 

    He was arrested in Zurich in 2015, as part of the U.S. government’s investigation into corruption involving an international soccer association. Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge, admitting that he laundered millions of dollars in bribes from sports marketing companies to his longtime associate and the former president of a continental soccer association. He is the second individual sentenced among a group of more than 40 who have been indicted or pleaded guilty since 2015. Previous FCPA Scorecard coverage of the investigation can be found here.

    Financial Crimes Anti-Money Laundering Bribery

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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

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