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Top Story Compliance Related

09/30/2020

Blanco encourages specificity in COVID-19-related SARs

In remarks delivered yesterday during a virtual AML conference, FinCEN Director Kenneth Blanco encouraged attendees to read FinCEN's advisories related to COVID-10 medical fraud, imposter scams, and cyber-related crime. He said that the most common trend FinCEN is seeing in COVID-19 related SARs involves fraudsters targeting multiple COVID-19 related government stimulus programs, employing money mules and cyber techniques. The largest share of COVID-19 SARs addresses fraud against federal or state COVID-19 stimulus programs. Stimulus programs intended to benefit both individual taxpayers and small businesses have been targeted for fraud, with multiple Automated Clearinghouse (ACH) payments disbursed to a single account representing the most common financial pattern reported in SARs.

Blanco recommended that SARs be specific in describing the activity being reported, to make them as useful as possible for law enforcement. Detailed information can help get SARs routed to the correct investigative team. For example, reports of medical scams like fake test kits, non-delivery of goods, and price gouging go to a specialized team of attorneys and investigators across the government. Specificity in the SAR about the fraudulent or suspicious medical aspects, both in the narrative and by checking box 34z, will get a SAR to this team more quickly.

For consumer related fraud, especially targeting the elderly or other vulnerable individuals with a COVID-19 related scam, such as a fake COVID relief charity or bogus person-in-need scam, specificity in SARs is also encouraged. Using the SAR check box 38d for elder financial exploitation will expedite getting the SAR to the right team.

Regarding SARs reporting suspected fraud in government programs, Blanco said vague references to “stimulus” or “CARES Act” or “benefit” in SARs hinder FinCEN's ability to get the information into the hands of the right team. The more specific filers are in their SAR narratives, the faster their reports will get to the right investigators. For example:

  • If the suspicious activity is related to an ACH payment from a state unemployment insurance program, filers should clearly mention COVID19 UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE FRAUD in field 2 of the SAR (Filing Institution Note to FinCEN) as well as in the narrative. This will make it much easier for the SAR to get to law enforcement teams working with the states on unemployment fraud.
  • If the activity involves a counterfeit check or ACH payment for the EIDL program, filers should clearly mention COVID19 EIDL FUNDS FRAUD in field 2 of the SAR and state this in the narrative, because there are specific prosecutorial teams working on EIDL fraud.

Blanco said that, from February 1 to September 12, banks and credit unions filed over 64,000, or about 71 percent, of all COVID-19-related SARs.

09/30/2020

Agencies finalize CECL phase-in rule

The Federal Reserve, OCC, and FDIC have published [85 FR 61577] a final rule that delays the estimated impact on regulatory capital stemming from the implementation of Accounting Standards Update No. 2016-13, Financial Instruments—Credit Losses, Topic 326, Measurement of Credit Losses on Financial Instruments (CECL). This final rule is consistent with the interim final rule published in the Federal Register on March 31, 2020, with certain clarifications and minor adjustments in response to public comments related to the mechanics of the transition and the eligibility criteria for applying the transition.

09/30/2020

Regulators issue two final temporary rules

The Federal Reserve, OCC, and FDIC have announced they have finalized two rules, which are either identical or substantially similar to interim final rules currently in effect and issued earlier this year.

The final rule temporarily deferring appraisal and evaluation requirements is substantially similar to the interim final rule issued in April. It will allow individuals and businesses to more quickly access real estate equity to help address needs for liquidity as a result of the coronavirus. In response to comments, the final rule clarifies which loans are subject to the deferral. The final rule is effective upon publication in the Federal Register and will expire on December 31, 2020.
PUBLICATION UPDATE: Published October 16, 2020, at 85 FR 65666.

The final rule pertaining to Federal Reserve liquidity facilities adopts without change three interim final rules issued in March, April, and May, 2020. Earlier this year, the Federal Reserve launched several lending facilities to support the economy in light of the coronavirus response. The final rule neutralizes the regulatory capital and liquidity coverage ratio effects of participating in the Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility and Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility because there is no credit or market risk in association with exposures pledged to these facilities. It will be effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
PUBLICATION AND EFFECTIVE DATE UPDATE: Published on 10/28/2020, with effective date of 12/28/2020.

09/29/2020

FinCEN Aviso FIN-2020-A005

FinCEN has posted a Spanish language version of its July 30, 2020, FIN-2020-A005 Advisory on Cybercrime and Cyber-Enabled Crime Exploiting the COVID-19 Pandemic.

09/28/2020

OFAC issues General License and FAQs

09/28/2020

FDIC proposes to consolidate PCA regs

The FDIC has published a proposed rule [85 FR 60738] that would rescind and remove the "Prompt Corrective Action" regulations that were transferred to the FDIC from the Office of Thrift Supervision in 2011 as part of the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act, and amend certain sections of existing FDIC regulations governing the issuance and review of orders pursuant to the prompt corrective action provisions of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act to make it clear that such rules apply to all insured depository institutions for which the FDIC is the appropriate Federal banking agency.

Comments on the proposal are due by October 28, 2020.

09/25/2020

OFAC issues CAATSA designations and updates an SDN

OFAC has added two individuals and four entities to its SDN List under its CAATSA-IRAN sanctions program, and updated a listing for Nicolas Maduro Moros. For details, see BankersOnline's OFAC Update.

09/24/2020

Western Union refunds on the way

The Federal Trade Commission reported yesterday that $147 million is being mailed to 33,000 consumers in the second distribution of refunds resulting from the law enforcement actions brought against Western Union in 2017 by the FTC, the Department of Justice, and the Postal Inspection Service. Affected consumers are receiving compensation for 100 percent of their verified losses.

The FTC’s 2017 complaint against Western Union alleged that for many years, Western Union was aware that fraudsters around the world used the company’s money transfer system to bilk consumers, and that some Western Union agents were complicit in the frauds. The complaint alleged that Western Union failed to put in place effective anti-fraud policies and procedures and to act promptly against problem agents.

09/24/2020

Cuban Assets Control Regs amended

OFAC has amended [85 FR 60068] the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) and published new and updated FAQs.

In a Treasury Department press release, the revisions were said to further implement the President’s foreign policy to deny the Cuban regime sources of revenue. They will restrict:

  • lodging at certain properties in Cuba
  • importing Cuban-origin alcohol and tobacco products
  • attending or organizing professional meetings or conferences in Cuba
  • participating in and organizing certain public performances, clinics, workshops, competitions, and exhibitions in Cuba

The changes are effective today.

09/24/2020

More OFAC pressure on Russian financier

On Wednesday, Treasury reported that OFAC had taken further action against the network of Kremlin-connected Russian operative Yevgeniy Prigozhin by targeting entities and individuals working on behalf of Prigozhin to advance Russia’s influence in the Central African Republic (CAR). Concurrently, OFAC is targeting those that have supported the Russian Federal Security Service directly, as well as those that assist persons helping designated Russian actors to evade U.S. sanctions.

See BankersOnline's OFAC Update for the names and identification information of the individuals and entities that OFAC has added to its SDN List.

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