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Top Story Compliance Related

03/30/2021

IRS clarifies tax deadline changes

The IRS has issued a news release to clarify its extension of certain taxpayer deadlines from April 15 to May 17, 2021. In addition to postponing to May 17 the deadline for individuals to file their tax returns and pay any tax due for calendar year 2020, the IRS action:

  • Moved to May 17 the deadline for tax year 2020 contributions to IRAs and health savings accounts (which are tied to the tax filing deadline). Also affected are contributions to Archer Medical Savings Accounts and Coverdell education savings accounts.
  • Delayed to May 17 the time for reporting and payment of the 10% additional tax on amounts includible in gross income from 2020 distributions from IRAs or workplace-based retirement plans.
  • Postpones the due date for Form 5498 series returns to June 30, 2021.
  • Extended to May 17, 2021, the deadline for claiming a refund on tax year 2017 income tax returns
  • Delayed the application deadline for tax preparers interested in voluntarily participating in the Annual Filing Season Program for calendar 2021 until May 17, 2021.

The normal April 15, 2021, due date for estimated tax payments for tax year 2021 was not changed. And, as noted in earlier IRS notice, the change to federal tax due dates does not affect state tax filing or payment due dates unless a state's due dates are tied by law to the federal deadlines or a state acts to change its due dates. Also not affected by these federal tax date changes are the previously announced postponements to June 15 for individual and business taxpayers in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma impacted by winter storms.

03/29/2021

FinCEN Innovation Hours report

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has issued a report on its Innovation Hours Program, a key element of FinCEN’s broader Innovation Initiative. The FinCEN Innovation Initiative is a multilayered approach promoting responsible financial services innovation to further the purposes of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), as amended by the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020.

03/25/2021

CFPB Consumer Response Annual Report for 2020

The CFPB has provided its Consumer Response Annual Report for 2020 to Congress. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the consumer financial marketplace is reflected in the increase of complaints submitted to the CFPB. The CFPB handled approximately 542,300 complaints last year—a nearly 54% increase over the approximately 352,400 complaints handled in 2019. The report reflects issues consumers reported to the CFPB in 2020 as influenced by numerous factors including changing market conditions. The report includes analyses of complaints across multiple consumer financial products and services.

  • Credit and consumer reporting complaints accounted for more than 58% of complaints received, followed by debt collection (15%), credit card (7%), checking or savings (6%), and mortgage complaints (5%).
  • Beginning in April 2020, consumers began to submit more than 3,000 complaints mentioning coronavirus keywords nearly every month. Consumers submitted approximately 32,100 complaints mentioning coronavirus or related keywords in 2020. Absence of coronavirus as a keyword in a complaint does not necessarily mean the complaint was not related to the financial impact of the pandemic.
  • Consumers from Florida submitted more complaints per capita than consumers from any other state (309 complaints submitted per 100,000 in population).
  • The CFPB received 40,800 complaints from self-identified servicemembers, veterans, and military families.

03/25/2021

$50M in University of Phoenix refunds sent to students

The FTC has announced it is sending payments totaling nearly $50 million to more than 147,000 University of Phoenix students who may have been lured by allegedly deceptive advertisements. The refunds stem from a lawsuit the FTC filed against the school alleging that it used deceptive advertisements that falsely touted its relationships and job opportunities with companies such as AT&T, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Twitter, and the American Red Cross. The FTC also alleged that the university's advertising gave the false impression that the online school worked with those companies to create job opportunities for its students and tailor its curriculum for such jobs.

03/25/2021

California housing providers resolve discrimination claim

HUD has announced it has approved a conciliation agreement between Monterey, California-based rental property owners and managers G Davi Properties and Guido A. Davi II and a resident of one of their properties, resolving claims that the providers denied the resident’s reasonable accommodation request to keep an assistance animal.

03/24/2021

Bureau may revive Payday Lending ATR requirement

The CFPB has posted a blog article by Acting Director Dave Uejio with a commitment to protect vulnerable borrowers. The article focused on consumer harms in the small dollar lending market, with particular concerns about any lender’s business model that is dependent on consumers’ inability to repay their loans. Uejio said that years of research by the CFPB found the vast majority of this industry’s revenue came from consumers who could not afford to repay their loans, with most short-term loans in reborrowing chains of 10 or more. One-in-five payday loans, and one-in-three vehicle title loans, ended in default, even including periods of reborrowing. And one-in-five vehicle title loan borrowers ended up having their car or truck seized by the lender.

Uejio noted that in 2020 the prior CFPB administration had revoked parts of its Payday Lending rule that would have addressed these harms. The later rule was challenged in court and the Bureau had a legal obligation to respond to the lawsuit. Accordingly, the Bureau has filed a brief addressing only the court’s jurisdiction to hear the case. The brief does not address the merits of the underlying rule, and the Bureau’s filing should not be regarded as an indication that the Bureau is satisfied with the status quo in this market. To the contrary, said Uejio, the Bureau believes that the harms identified by the 2017 rule still exist, and will use the authority provided by Congress to address these harms, including through vigorous market monitoring, supervision, enforcement, and, if appropriate, rulemaking.

03/24/2021

Former Venezuelan official pleads guilty to bribery and ML charges

ICE has announced a dual U.S.-Venezuelan citizen and former official at Citgo Petroleum Corporation, a Houston-based subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), pleaded guilty yesterday for his role in laundering millions of dollars in bribes and corruptly providing business advantages to multiple individuals who obtained contracts with Citgo and PDVSA.

Jose Luis De Jongh Atencio, a former procurement officer and manager in Citgo’s Special Projects Group, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He is scheduled to be sentenced on August 19 and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. As part of his plea, De Jongh also agreed to forfeit more than $3 million seized from his bank accounts and 15 properties that he purchased with his corrupt proceeds.

03/23/2021

Climate and ESG webpage launched by SEC

The Securities and Exchange Commission has launched a new page, SEC Response to Climate and ESG Risks and Opportunities, on its website to bring together agency actions and the latest information about climate and environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing. In response to increased investor demand for this information, the page will be linked from the front page of SEC.gov and will be updated as the agency continues to respond to investors. “Our all-of-SEC approach looks at how climate and ESG intersect with our broader regulatory framework to get investors the information they need to plan for their financial future,” said SEC Acting Chair Allison Herren Lee.

03/23/2021

OFAC targets Burmese forces and Chinese officials

The U.S. Department of the Treasury has announced that OFAC has sanctioned two individuals and two entities connected to the Burmese military and its violent repression of pro-democracy protests. Sanctioned were Than Hlaing and Aung Soe, and the 33rd and 77th Light Infantry Divisions of the Burmese Army.

Treasury also announced OFAC's sanctioning of two current Chinese government officials in connection with serious human rights abuses against ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). These designations include Wang Junzheng, the Secretary of the Party Committee of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), and Chen Mingguo, Director of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau (XPSB).

Additional identification information on the individuals and entities sanctioned can be found in BankersOnline's OFAC Update.

03/22/2021

FATF updating virtual asset/service provider guidance

The Financial Action Task Force is updating its Guidance on the risk-based approach to virtual assets (VAs) and virtual asset service providers (VASPs). The FATF originally published this Guidance in June 2019 when the FATF finalized changes to its Standards to clearly place anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) obligations on VAs and VASPs. The FATF is consulting private sector stakeholders before finalizing the revisions to the Guidance. It primarily seek views from representatives from the VA community, including academics and policy bodies, VASPs, technology developers and providers (particularly in relation to the travel rule), other regulated entities (such as banks), but also welcome views from authorities.

This revised document will provide updated guidance in six main areas to

  1. clarify the definitions of VA and VASP to make clear that these definitions are expansive and there should not be a case where a relevant financial asset is not covered by the FATF Standards (either as a VA or as a traditional financial asset);
  2. provide guidance on how the FATF Standards apply to so-called stablecoins;
  3. provide additional guidance on the risks and potential risk mitigants for peer-to-peer transactions;
  4. provide updated guidance on the licensing and registration of VASPs;
  5. provide additional guidance for the public and private sectors on the implementation of the "travel rule"; and
  6. include Principles of Information-Sharing and Co-operation Amongst VASP Supervisors.

The Guidance is also being updated to reflect the passage of time and the publication of other relevant FATF reports.

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