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Top Story Compliance Related

10/20/2020

ACCESS initiative launched by NCUA

NCUA Chairman Hood has announced the launch of the agency’s new Advancing Communities through Credit, Education, Stability, and Support (ACCESS) initiative, which will bring together leaders across the NCUA to refresh and modernize regulations, policies, and programs in support of greater financial inclusion within the agency and the credit union system. Efforts under this program include increasing access to credit and loan products, dedicating resources to help people make smart financial decisions, enhancing existing programs that encourage credit union membership and access to financial services, and fostering inclusive policies and outreach efforts in the community.

10/20/2020

OFAC designates al-Qa’ida financial facilitator

On Monday, the Treasury Department announced that OFAC has designated Australia-based al-Qa’ida-associated facilitator Ahmed Luqman Talib for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, Al-Qa’ida. Additionally, OFAC also designated one company, Talib and Sons, for being owned, controlled, or directed by Ahmed Luqman Talib.

For identification information on these and several other newly designated persons, see this BankersOnline OFAC Update.

10/20/2020

Owner of bitcoin 'mixer' service hit with $60M CMP

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Center has announced it has assessed a $60,000,000 civil money penalty against Larry Dean Harmon of Akron, Ohio, d/b/a Helix and primary operator of Coin Ninja LLC, , both convertible virtual currency "mixers" or "tumblers," for multiple violations of the Bank Secrecy Act and implementing regulations.

Harmon operated Helix from 2014 to 2017 and Coin Ninja from 2017 to 2020, as unregistered money services businesses, and is being prosecuted in federal court on charges of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and operation of an unlicensed money transmitting business in connection with his operation of Helix.

Mr. Harmon, doing business as Helix and Coin Ninja, operated as an exchanger of convertible virtual currencies by accepting and transmitting bitcoin through a variety of means. From June 2014 through December 2017, Helix conducted over 1,225,000 transactions for its customers and was associated with virtual currency wallet addresses that sent or received over $311 million dollars. FinCEN’s investigation has identified at least 356,000 bitcoin transactions through Helix. Mr. Harmon operated Helix as a bitcoin mixer, or tumbler, and advertised its services in the darkest spaces of the internet as a way for customers to anonymously pay for things like drugs, guns, and child pornography. Mr. Harmon subsequently founded, and acted as Chief Executive Officer of, Coin Ninja, which operated as an unregistered MSB and in the same manner as Helix.

FinCEN's investigation demonstrated that Mr. Harmon deliberately disregarded his obligations under the BSA and implemented practices that allowed Helix to circumvent the BSA’s requirements. This included a failure to collect and verify customer names, addresses, and other identifiers on over 1.2 million transactions. Harmon, operating through Helix, actively deleted even the minimal customer information he did collect. The investigation revealed that Mr. Harmon engaged in transactions with narcotics traffickers, counterfeiters and fraudsters, as well as other criminals.

For additional information and a link to FinCEN's Order for Assessment of the Civil Money Penalty, see this BankersOnline penalty page.

10/19/2020

Fed publishes its CRA ANPR

The Federal Reserve Board has published [85 FR 66410] in today's Federal Register its September 21 Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking [see our earlier Top Story] to solicit public input regarding modernizing the Board's Community Reinvestment Act regulatory and supervisory framework. The 120-day comment period will end February 16, 2021.

10/16/2020

SEC publishes final rule on bank and S&L disclosures

The Securities and Exchange Commission has published [85 FR 66108] its final rule [see our earlier Top Story] updating the statistical disclosure requirements for banking registrants. The amendments update and expand the disclosures that registrants are required to provide, codify certain Guide 3 disclosure items and eliminate other Guide 3 disclosure items that overlap with Commission rules, U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (“U.S. GAAP”), or International Financial Reporting Standards (“IFRS”). In addition, the amendments relocate the codified disclosure requirements to a new subpart of Regulation S-K and rescind Guide 3.

10/16/2020

New York bank pays $546,000 Flood Act penalty

The Federal Reserve Board has issued a consent order for a $546,000 civil money penalty to Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company, Buffalo, New York, for a pattern or practice of unspecified violations of Regulation H, 12 CFR § 208.25, which implements requirements of the National Flood Insurance Act.

10/16/2020

Advisory on human trafficking and related activity

FinCEN has issued FIN-2020-A008, a Supplemental Advisory on Identifying and Reporting Human Trafficking and Related Activity. The Advisory supplements Advisory FIN-2014-A008, "Guidance on Recognizing Activity that May be Associated with Human Smuggling and Human Trafficking — Financial Red Flags."

The Supplemental Advisory explains four new human trafficking typologies identified since 2014, and provides a list of twenty behavioral and financial indicators to supplement the red flag indicators in the 2014 Advisory. Also included are two case studies illustrating the use of funnel accounts, prepaid cards and bitcoin; and instructions for SAR filing involving activities highlighted in the Advisory.

10/15/2020

CFPB settles with debt collectors/buyers

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced today it has filed a proposed stipulated final judgment and order to settle its lawsuit against Encore Capital Group, Inc., and its subsidiaries, Midland Funding, LLC; Midland Credit Management, Inc.; and Asset Acceptance Capital Corp. The companies, which are headquartered in San Diego, California, together form the largest debt collector and debt buyer in the United States.

Encore and its subsidiaries are currently subject to a 2015 consent order with the Bureau based on the Bureau’s previous findings that they violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA), Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), and Fair Credit Reporting Act. The Bureau sued Encore and its subsidiaries on September 8 of this year, alleging that Encore and its subsidiaries violated the terms of this consent order and again violated the FDCPA and CFPA in their debt-collection practices.

If entered by the court, the stipulated final judgment and order will require Encore and its subsidiaries to pay $79,308.81 in redress to consumers and a $15 million civil money penalty. The settlement will also require Encore and its subsidiaries to make various material disclosures to consumers, refrain from the collection of time-barred debt absent certain disclosures to consumers, and abide by certain conduct provisions in the 2015 consent order for five more years.

10/15/2020

FDIC asks early start on Call Report

The FDIC has issued FIL-97-2020 with links to materials pertaining to the Call Report for the quarter ending September 30, 2020. The agency asked that banks plan to complete their preparation, editing and review of their Call Report data as early as possible to ensure a timely submission of the data to the Central Data Repository.

With exceptions for certain institutions with foreign offices, completed Call Reports must be received by Friday, October 30, 2020.

10/15/2020

USAA Bank assessed $85M CMP

The OCC has assessed an $85 million civil money penalty against USAA Federal Savings Bank for the bank’s failure to implement and maintain an effective compliance risk management program and an effective information technology risk governance program. These deficiencies resulted in violations of law, including but not limited to violations of the Military Lending Act and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. In January 2019, the bank entered into a consent order with the OCC concerning the deficiencies, and is in the process of remediating them.

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