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Top Story Compliance Related

09/24/2021

FinCEN starts process for new antiquities trade regs

FinCEN has announced it has issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to solicit public comment on a range of questions related to the implementation of amendments to the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) regarding the trade in antiquities. This ANPRM is the first in a series of regulatory actions that FinCEN will undertake to implement Section 6110 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (AML Act), which became law on January 1, 2021.

Section 6110 of the AML Act amended the BSA by including as a type of financial institution a person engaged in the trade of antiquities, including an advisor, consultant, or any other person who engages as a business in the solicitation or the sale of antiquities. Section 6110 requires the Secretary of the Treasury to issue proposed rules to carry out the amendment.

Comments on the ANPRM are due by October 25, 2021.

09/23/2021

IRS hires private collection agencies

The IRS has announced it has awarded new contracts to three private-sector collection agencies for collection of overdue tax debts. The new contracts begin Thursday following today's expiration of the old contracts.

Beginning Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, taxpayers with unpaid tax bills may be contacted by one of the following three agencies:

  • CBE Group, Inc.
  • Coast Professional, Inc.
  • ConServe

The IRS will always notify a taxpayer before transferring their account to a private collection agency (PCA). First, the IRS will send a letter to the taxpayer and their tax representative informing them that their account was assigned to a PCA and giving the name and contact information for the PCA. This mailing will include a copy of Publication 4518, What You Can Expect When the IRS Assigns Your Account to a Private Collection Agency. Following IRS notification, the PCA will send its own letter to the taxpayer and their representative confirming the account transfer. To protect the taxpayer's privacy and security, both the IRS letter and the PCA's letter will contain information that will help taxpayers identify the tax amount owed and assure taxpayers that future collection agency calls they may receive are legitimate.

The private firms are authorized to discuss payment options, including setting up payment agreements with taxpayers. But as with cases assigned to IRS employees, any tax payment must be made directly to the IRS. A payment should never be sent to the private firm or anyone besides the IRS or the U.S. Treasury. Checks should only be made payable to the United States Treasury.

09/23/2021

CFPB announces new Advisory Committee members

CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio has announced the appointment of new members to the Consumer Advisory Board, Community Bank Advisory Council, Credit Union Advisory Council, and Academic Research Council. These committee members will advise Bureau leadership on a broad range of consumer financial issues and emerging market trends.

The committee members include experts in consumer protection, financial services, consumer lending, economic justice, and consumer financial products and services as well as representatives of community banks and credit unions. Committee members serve two-year terms.

Consumer Advisory Board (CAB)

  • Leigh Phillips (Chair), President and CEO, SaverLife (San Francisco, CA)
  • Joaquin Altoro, Chief Executive Officer, Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority (Madison, WI)
  • Lorray Brown, Attorney/Consumer Law Attorney/Co-Director, Michigan Poverty Law Program (Ypsilanti, MI)
  • Louis Caditz-Peck, Director, Public Policy, LendingClub (San Francisco, CA)
  • Stephanie Carroll, Directing Attorney, Consumer Rights & Economic Justice, Public Counsel (Los Angeles, CA)
  • David Ehrich, Executive Director, AIR - Alliance for Innovative Regulation (Washington, DC)
  • Laurie Goodman, Director, Housing Finance Policy Center, Urban Institute (Washington, DC)
  • Margaret Libby, Founder and CEO, MyPath (San Francisco, CA)
  • Andres Navarrete, Executive Vice President, External Affairs, Capital One (McLean, VA)
  • Beverly Ruggia, Financial Justice Program Director, New Jersey Citizen Action (Newark, NJ)
  • Faith Schwartz, President, Housing Finance Strategies, LLC (Austin, TX)
  • Ky Tran-Trong, Vice President and Associate General Counsel, Visa (Washington, DC)
  • Pete Upton, Executive Director, Native360 Loan Fund, Inc. (Grand Island, NE)
  • Mae Watson Grote, Founder and CEO, Change Machine (Brooklyn, NY)

Community Bank Advisory Council (CBAC)

  • John Buhrmaster (Chair), President and CEO, First National Bank of Scotia (Scotia, NY)
  • Barry Anderson, President - Chief Operations Officer, F&M Bank (Edmond, OK)
  • Mary Buche, Senior Vice President/Consumer Lending Relationship Manager, Bank of Labor (Olathe, KS)
  • Ronette Hauser-Jones, Mortgage Division President, Great Plains Bank (Oklahoma City, OK)
  • Todd McDonald, Senior Vice President/Board Director, Liberty Bank & Trust Company (New Orleans, LA)
  • Rebecca Melton, Senior Vice President/Chief Credit Officer, The National Bank of Blacksburg (Blacksburg, VA)
  • Kristina Schaefer, General Counsel & Chief Risk Officer, Fishback Financial Corporation/First Bank & Trust (Brookings, SD)
  • Michael Tucker, Chief Executive Officer, Greenfield Cooperative Bank (Greenfield, MA)

Credit Union Advisory Council (CUAC)

  • Jose Iregui (Chair), Vice-President of Consumer Lending, Langley Federal Credit Union (Newport News, VA)
  • Michael Daugherty, President, Community Plus Federal Credit Union (Rantoul, IL)
  • Monica Davis, Senior Vice President Risk Management, Union Square Credit Union (Wichita Falls, TX)
  • Michelle Dwyer, President/CEO, Franklin First Federal Credit Union (Greenfield, MA)
  • Jeff Ivey, President/CEO, River City Federal Credit Union (San Antonio, TX)
  • Jeremiah Kossen, President/CEO, Town and Country Credit Union (Minot, SD)
  • Michael Levy, General Counsel, Travis Credit Union (Vacaville, CA)
  • Deborah Wreden, EVP, Product & Delivery Strategy, Virginia Credit Union (Richmond, VA)

Academic Research Council (ARC)

  • Vicki Bogan (Chair), Associate Professor, Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)
  • Mathieu Despard, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Greensboro, NC)
  • Eric Johnson, Norman Eig Professor of Business, Columbia University (New York, NY)
  • Michael Staten, Professor and Associate Dean, University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ)
  • Anthony Yezer, Professor of Economics, George Washington University (Washington, DC)

09/23/2021

OCC updates Handbook booklets

The OCC has issued Bulletin 2021-44 announcing the agency has issued versions 1.0 of the "Earnings" and "Regulatory Reporting" booklets of the Comptroller's Handbook.

The revised "Earnings" booklet replaces and rescinds the "Analytical Review of Income and Expense" booklet issued in March 1990 (with examination procedures issued in March 1998). The revised "Regulatory Reporting" booklet replaces and rescinds the "Review of Regulatory Reports" booklet also issued in March 1990.

09/23/2021

Treasury targets Sinaloa Cartel in Sonora

The Department of the Treasury has announced that its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has designated Mexican national Sergio Valenzuela Valenzuela (“Valenzuela Valenzuela”) as a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.

In addition to Valenzuela Valenzuela, OFAC also designated seven other Mexican nationals for providing material assistance to Valenzuela Valenzuela. These individuals include Valenzuela Valenzuela’s right-hand man, Leonardo Pineda Armenta, who directs operations for him, and six cartel lieutenants who ultimately report to Valenzuela Valenzuela: Gilberto Martinez Renteria, Jaime Humberto Gonzalez Higuera, Jorge Damian Roman Figueroa, Luis Alberto Carrillo Jimenez, Meliton Rochin Hurtado, and Miguel Raymundo Marrufo Cabrera. Additionally, OFAC designated two companies in Mexico for being owned or controlled by Rochin Hurtado and Marrufo Cabrera, Acuaindustria Narciso Mendoza, S.C. de R.L. de C.V. and Club Indios Rojos de Juarez, S.A. de C.V.

As a result of yesterday’s action, all property and interests in property of the designated individuals and entities that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or persons within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons.

09/22/2021

Puerto Rico company charged with securities fraud

The Securities and Exchange Commission has announced charges against Puerto Rico-based Back to Green Mining LLC and its two managing members, José Jiménez Cruz and Manuel Portalatin, for their participation in a fraudulent and unregistered offering in a purported "green" mining venture.

The complaint filed by the SEC alleges that, from August 2016 until at least 2020, Back to Green, Jiménez, and Portalatin offered and sold to retail investors in Puerto Rico and at least five U.S. states the opportunity to share in the profits of a purported Colombian gold mining operation. According to the SEC's complaint, the offering, which was not registered with the Commission, was part of a fraudulent scheme that raised approximately $2.7 million. Jiménez and Back to Green allegedly placed advertisements promising investors exorbitant returns and presented investors with materials that falsely stated that all permits necessary to mine in Colombia had been obtained. Subsequent to the provision of these materials, Portalatin allegedly signed contracts with investors when he knew that they had been misled.

09/22/2021

HBCUs receive $5.5M in HUD grants

HUD has announced a total of $5.5 million will be awarded to two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Howard University and Texas Southern University will received $4.5 million and $1 million, respectively, to establish Centers of Excellence for housing and economic development research. The grants will be used to provide the universities with funding to conduct research on the topics of housing and economic development, particularly in underserved communities.

09/22/2021

Treasury acts to counter ransomware

The Department of the Treasury on Tuesday announced a set of actions focused on disrupting criminal networks and virtual currency exchanges responsible for laundering ransoms, encouraging improved cyber security across the private sector, and increasing incident and ransomware payment reporting to U.S. government agencies, including both Treasury and law enforcement.

Tuesday's actions included OFAC's designation of SUEX OTC, S.R.O. (SUEX), a virtual currency exchange, for its part in facilitating financial transactions for ransomware actors. The designation was made under the authority of Executive Order 13694, for providing material support to the threat posed by criminal ransomware actors. As a result of yesterday’s designation, all property and interests in property of the designated target that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them. Additionally, any entities 50% or more owned by one or more designated persons are also blocked. In addition, financial institutions and other persons that engage in certain transactions or activities with the sanctioned entities and individuals may expose themselves to sanctions or be subject to an enforcement action.

For identification information for Suex OTC, S.R.O., see the September 21, 2021, BankersOnline OFAC Update.

OFAC also released an Updated Advisory on Potential Sanctions Risks for Facilitating Ransomware Payments. The Advisory emphasizes that the U.S. government continues to strongly discourage the payment of cyber ransom or extortion demands and recognizes the importance of cyber hygiene in preventing or mitigating such attacks. OFAC has also updated the Advisory to emphasize the importance of improving cybersecurity practices and reporting to, and cooperating with, appropriate U.S. government agencies in the event of a ransomware attack. Such reporting, as the Advisory notes, is essential for U.S. government agencies, including law enforcement, to understand and counter ransomware attacks and malicious cyber actors.

09/21/2021

Webinar: Money Laundering from Environmental Crime

The FATF has announced it will conduct a webinar on Money Laundering from Environmental Crime on September 30, 2021 from 1:00–2:00 p.m. CEST [7:00–8:00 a.m. EDT]. An international panel will discuss important aspects of the FATF Report on the topic, including how to identify red-flag information to help detect and trace the illicit finances of criminals engaged in environmental crimes. Participants will also debate how to overcome challenges, such as the lack of governmental or institutional prioritization, limited awareness and data, de-risking, and limited domestic and international co-ordination. Online registration is open.

09/21/2021

First Regulation Crowdfunding case filed by SEC

The SEC yesterday filed a complaint charging three individuals and one issuer with conducting a fraudulent scheme to sell nearly $2 million of unregistered securities through two crowdfunding offerings. The SEC also charged the registered funding portal and its CEO, who placed the offerings on the portal’s platform.

According to the SEC's complaint, Robert Shumake, with his associates Nicole Birch and Willard Jackson, conducted fraudulent and unregistered crowdfunding offerings through two cannabis and hemp companies, Transatlantic Real Estate LLC and 420 Real Estate LLC. Shumake, with assistance from Birch and Jackson, allegedly hid his involvement in the offerings from the public out of concern that his prior criminal conviction could deter prospective investors.

The complaint alleges that Shumake and Birch raised $1,020,100 from retail investors through Transatlantic Real Estate, and Shumake and Jackson raised $888,180 through 420 Real Estate. Shumake, Birch, and Jackson allegedly diverted investor funds for personal use rather than using the funds for the purposes disclosed to investors.

TruCrowd Inc., a registered funding portal, and its CEO, Vincent Petrescu, allegedly hosted the Transatlantic Real Estate and 420 Real Estate offerings on TruCrowd's platform. Petrescu allegedly failed to address red flags including Shumake's criminal history and involvement in the crowdfunding offerings, and otherwise failed to reduce the risk of fraud to investors.

The SEC's Office of Investor Education and Advocacy has issued an investor bulletin on crowdfunding and investor alerts on the red flags of investment fraud. Additional information is available at Investor.gov.

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