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Top Story Compliance Related


FinCEN and OCC fine Texas Bank for BSA/AML violations

The OCC has announced a $1 million civil money penalty against CommunityBank of Texas, N.A., Beaumont, Texas, for violations of the OCC’s Bank Secrecy Act regulations. The OCC found that CommunityBank of Texas failed to adopt and implement a Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering system of internal controls to assure ongoing compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act and its implementing regulations. Such deficiencies resulted in CommunityBank’s failure to timely file complete suspicious activity reports for approximately $100 million of suspicious activity. The OCC’s civil money penalty is separate from, but coordinated with, a settlement between CommunityBank and FinCEN.

FinCEN has announced it has assessed an $8 million civil money penalty on the bank for willful violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and its implementing regulations.

The bank admitted that it willfully failed to implement and maintain an effective anti-money laundering (AML) program that was reasonably designed to guard against money laundering. The bank also admitted that it willfully failed to report hundreds of suspicious transactions to FinCEN involving illegal financial activity by its customers and processed by, at, or through the bank even after the bank became aware that certain customers were subjects of criminal investigations. The violations occurred from at least 2015 through 2019 and caused millions of dollars in suspicious transactions to go unreported to FinCEN in a timely and accurate manner, including transactions connected to tax evasion, illegal gambling, money laundering, and other financial crimes.


Annual CRA asset-size thresholds updates

The Federal Reserve Board and the FDIC have announced the 2022 updated asset-size thresholds used to define "small bank" and "intermediate small bank" under their Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) regulations.

Annual adjustments to these asset-size thresholds are based on the average change in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), which is a measure of inflation.

As a result of the 4.73 percent increase in the CPI-W for the period ending in November 2021, the definitions of small and intermediate small banks for CRA examinations will change, effective January 1, 2022, as follows:

  • Small bank means an institution that, as of December 31 of either of the prior two calendar years, had assets of less than $1.384 billion.
  • Intermediate small bank means a small institution with assets of at least $346 million as of December 31 of both of the prior two calendar years and less than $1.384 billion as of December 31 of either of the prior two calendar years.

PUBLICATION Update: Published at 86 FR 71813 on 12/20/2021.


OFAC targets 8 Chinese tech firms

On Thursday, Treasury announced that OFAC has identified eight Chinese technology firms under the authority of Executive Order 13959, as amended by E.O. 14032. These eight entities actively support the biometric surveillance and tracking of ethnic and religious minorities in China, particularly the predominantly Muslim Uyghur minority in Xinjiang. As a result of yesterday’s action, U.S. persons will be prohibited from purchasing or selling certain publicly traded securities connected with these entities, as described in E.O. 13959, as amended.

For identification information on the eight identified entities, see the December 16, 2021, BankersOnline OFAC Update.


Interagency statement on institutions affected by tornadoes

The Federal Reserve Board, Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS), FDIC, NCUA, and the OCC (the Agencies) on Wednesday issued an Interagency Statement that they recognize the serious impact of tornadoes on the customers and operations of many financial institutions and will provide appropriate regulatory assistance to affected institutions subject to their supervision. The agencies encourage institutions operating in the affected areas to meet the financial services needs of their communities.
A complete list of the affected disaster areas can be found at
The assistance that the Agencies will provide include guidance and flexibility in the following areas:

  • Lending
  • Temporary facilities
  • Publishing requirements
  • Regulatory reporting requirements
  • Community Reinvestment Act
  • Investments

For more information, refer to the Interagency Supervisory Examiner Guidance for Institutions Affected by a Major Disaster available on the following websites: CSBS; FDIC; FRB; OCC; and NCUA.
Press release and related links:


OFAC gets new authority to combat illicit drug trade

The Treasury Department yesterday announced that President Biden has issued a new Executive Order, "Imposing Sanctions on Foreign Persons Involved in the Global Illicit Drug Trade," to modernize the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s sanctions authorities used to combat the illicit drug trade. This E.O. will provide the Treasury Department with new tools to tackle changes in the global illicit drug trade that substantially contributed to over 100,000 American overdose deaths in the 12-month period ending in April 2021.


This E.O. enhances the Department of Treasury’s authorities to target any foreign person engaged in drug trafficking activities, regardless of whether they are linked to a specific kingpin or cartel. It further enables Treasury to sanction foreign persons who knowingly receive property that constitutes, or is derived from, proceeds of illicit drug trafficking activities.


Under the new E.O. OFAC has designated 25 actors (10 individuals and 15 entities) in four countries for having engaged in, or attempted to engage in, activities or transactions that have materially contributed to, or pose a significant risk of materially contributing to, the international proliferation of illicit drugs or their means of production. For the names and identification information of the designated actors, and a link to the new Executive Order, see the December 15, 2021, BankersOnline OFAC Update.


As a result of yesterday’s action, all property and interests in property of the designated individuals that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked.


Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or otherwise exempt, 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. The prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.


FinCEN seeks input on modernizing AML/CFT regime

FinCEN has issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking comments on ways to streamline, modernize, and update the anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime of the United States. FinCEN's news release reported the agency is particularly interested in comments on ways to modernize risk-based AML/CFT regulations and guidance issued pursuant to the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) so that they, on a continuing basis, protect U.S. national security in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

The RFI also supports FinCEN’s efforts to conduct a formal review of BSA regulations and related guidance, which is required by Section 6216 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020. FinCEN will report to Congress the findings of the review, including administrative and legislative recommendations.

The RFI was published at 86 FR 71201 in today's Federal Register. Comments will be accepted through February 14, 2022.


OCC rescinds its 2020 CRA Rule

This morning, the OCC announced it has issued a final rule rescinding its June 2020 CRA Rule, and replacing it with a rule based on rules adopted jointly by the Federal banking agencies in 1995, as amended. The OCC said today's action, which will be effective January 1, 2022, is intended to facilitate the ongoing interagency work to modernize the CRA regulatory framework and promote consistency for all insured depository institutions.
Publication and compliance dates update: Published at 86 FR 71328 on 12/15/2021. The rule will be effective 1/1/2022, but the compliance date for sections 25.43 and 25.44 is 4/1/2022.
See also: OCC Bulletin 2021-61


Special charitable tax benefit highlighted

The Independent Sector and National Council of Nonprofits have joined with the IRS to highlight a special pandemic-related tax provision under which married couples filing jointly can deduct up to $600 in cash donations and individual taxpayers can deduct up to $300 in donations.

Under the temporary law, taxpayers don't need to itemize deductions on their tax returns to take advantage of this tax-favorable donation option not normally available to about 90 percent of tax filers. Ordinarily, people who choose to take the standard deduction cannot claim a deduction for their charitable contributions. But this special provision permits them to claim a limited deduction on their 2021 federal income tax returns for cash contributions made to qualifying charitable organizations by December 31, 2021. The IRS's special Tax Exempt Organization Search tool can help people make sure they donate to a qualified charity.
Related link:
IRS press release


CFPB updates EFT/Reg E FAQs

The CFPB on Monday posted an update of its Compliance Aid, "Electronic Fund Transfers FAQs," including these topics:

  • Coverage: Transactions (5 new or updated FAQs)
  • Coverage: Financial Institutions (4 new or updated FAQs)
  • Error Resolution (4 FAQs—2 new or updated)
  • Error Resolution: Unauthorized EFTs (11 FAQs—5 new or updated)

REGISTER NOW: BOL's Andy Zavoina will analyze the EFT FAQs in a special 90-minute webinar—Reg E Guidance – EFT Compliance—on January 27, 2022. REGISTER NOW!


Phantom debt collectors banned from industry

Defendants threatened consumers with lawsuits and arrest while trying to collect non-existent debts

The Federal Trade Commission on Monday announced a group of phantom debt collectors will be permanently banned from the debt collection industry and required to surrender the contents of numerous bank and investment accounts under the terms of a settlement with the Commission.

The FTC’s complaint against South Carolina-based National Landmark Logistics, filed in July 2020, alleged that the defendants in the case used robocalls to leave deceptive messages claiming consumers faced imminent legal action—lawsuits or even arrest—for unpaid debts.

When consumers returned the calls, the defendants falsely claimed to be from a mediation or law firm, again threatened legal action, and used consumers’ personal information to convince consumers the threats were real. The defendants turned around and pocketed the money, despite the fact that in many instances, consumers did not owe the debt being collected on or the defendants had no right to collect it.

Under the terms of the settlement, National Landmark Logistics, LLC; National Landmark Service of United Recovery, LLC; Silverlake Landmark Recovery Group, LLC; and Jean Cellent will be permanently banned from debt collection of any kind. They will also be banned from buying or selling debt, and from making any misrepresentations to consumers about any goods or services—including from claiming that they are lawyers or represent a law firm.

The settlement also includes a monetary judgment of $12,098,760, which is partially suspended due to an inability to pay. In addition, the defendants will be required to surrender the contents of numerous bank and investment accounts, as well as the title to property located in Philadelphia and a Mercedes SL 550 or the cash value of those assets.


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