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Section 314(a) Records Requests

by Mary Beth Guard, BOL Guru
Guru Bios

To help you respond in a compliant manner to Section 314(a) search requests your institution receives from FinCEN, we've created a list of Do's and Don't's. Plus, we've also made up a cheat sheet (PDF format) to serve as a reminder of precisely what you need to search.

Do's and Don't's for
Responding to Section 314(a)
Information Requests

Do . . . begin your search immediately and finish no later than the deadline (14 calendar days after you receive the request);

Do . . . document your search - who performed it, when, what you searched, what you found, and when it was completed;

Do . . . file a Subject Information Form ("SIF") via email or fax with an X next to the matching name if your search turns up records on a subject named in the information request;Do . . . put the FinCEN tracking number in the subject line of the email (or, if you send via fax, on the cover sheet for the fax);

Do . . . use only one SIF per request, even if you have hits on several names. Simply put an X by each name on which you have found records;

Do . . . include contact data for your institution on the SIF, including the name, mailing address, phone number and email address for the correct point of contact in your institution;Do . . . obtain a written confirmation if a law enforcement authority requests that you keep open an account of a named subject;

Do . . . report (using the SIF) matches you discover that are outside the timeframes you required to search for, if you happen to run across any during the course of your search;

Do . . . consider submitting more than one person's contact information for these requests or have them go to a special email box established for that purpose that is checked every day and accessible to a back-up contact person so that you can avoid inadvertently missing a request. Don't . . . file anything if you don't have a match;

Don't . . . disclose information about the search within your institution except to those with a need to know;

Don't . . . disclose to third parties outside your institution, except to vendors assisting you with your search and only if you take steps to ensure the vendor has adequate information security procedures;

Don't . . . release records or info on a follow-up inquiry to a federal government authority unless you first obtain a financial privacy certificate of compliance to protect you;

Don't . . . send any records or information to FinCEN, other than the SIF where you have a match; Don't . . . treat a 314(a) request as a Section 326 list unless it says to do so. [If it were a Section 326 list, you would have to check all new customers against it.]

Don't . . . maintain a list of named subjects for purposes of deciding whether to open an account or conduct a transaction;Don't . . . close an account of a named subject unless and until you confer with the law enforcement authority making the request to ensure it won't jeopardize the investigation;Don't . . . file a SAR just because you have a match with a named subject on a 314(a) request;

Don't . . . share information about these requests with affiliate institutions unless each of you has filed a notice of intent to share information about possible money laundering and terrorism under Section 314(b) of the USA PATRIOT Act. Unless you have filed such a notice, sharing with your affiliate will not be protected under the safe harbor.
Click here to view the cheat sheet: 314(a) Requests - What to Search (PDF Format)

The original version appeared in the January/February 2003 edition of the Oklahoma Bankers Association Compliance Informer.

First published on 6/23/03

First published on 06/23/2003

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