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Top Story Compliance Related

03/04/2021

CFPB sues third-party payment processor

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced on Wednesday it has filed a lawsuit against BrightSpeed Solutions Inc. and its founder and former chief executive officer, Kevin Howard, for knowingly processing payments for companies engaged in internet-based technical-support fraud. Chicago-based BrightSpeed was a privately owned, third-party payment processor founded and operated by Howard in 2015. It wound down business operations in March 2019.

In its complaint, the Bureau alleges that, between 2016 and 2018, Howard and BrightSpeed knowingly processed payments for client companies that purported to offer technical-support services and products over the internet, but instead tricked consumers, often older Americans, into purchasing expensive and unnecessary antivirus software or services. The CFPB alleges that Howard’s and BrightSpeed’s actions were unfair practices in violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 and deceptive telemarketing practices in violation of the Telemarketing Sales Rule. The complaint seeks injunctions against BrightSpeed and Howard, as well as damages, redress to consumers, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, and the imposition of civil money penalties.

BrightSpeed and Howard processed remotely created check payments for more than 100 client companies totaling more than $71 million. The CFPB alleges that many of BrightSpeed’s client companies purported to provide antivirus software and technical-support services to consumers, but instead scammed them into purchasing unnecessary and expensive computer software and services for amounts sometimes as high as $2,000. BrightSpeed’s clients sold their products and services through telemarketing and received payment through remotely created checks. The CFPB alleges that BrightSpeed and Howard continued to process the scammers’ remotely created check payments for months and, in some cases, years. BrightSpeed and Howard did so despite being aware of nearly 1,000 consumer complaints, several inquiries from police departments around the country, and return rates averaging more than 20%.

03/04/2021

OFAC targets drug cartel facilitator

The Treasury Department has announced that OFAC has designated Mexican national Juan Manuel Abouzaid El Bayeh as a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). OFAC designated Abouzaid El Bayeh for his high-level role in facilitating drug shipments and money laundering for the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG), a violent Mexican drug trafficking organization that is responsible for trafficking a significant proportion of the fentanyl and other deadly drugs that enter the United States. Identification information on Abouzaid El Bayeh can be found in yesterday's BankersOnline OFAC Update.

Since June 2000, more than 2,200 entities and individuals have been sanctioned pursuant to the Kingpin Act for their role in international narcotics trafficking. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1,503,470 per violation to more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals could face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.

03/03/2021

OFAC sanctions Yemeni militants and Russian officials

The Treasury Department announced yesterday that OFAC has sanctioned two key militants of the Iranian-backed Ansarallah, sometimes referred to as the Houthis, whose actions have prolonged Yemen’s civil war and exacerbated the country’s humanitarian crisis. Treasury said that Mansur Al-Sa’adi and Ahmad ‘Ali Ahsan al-Hamzi are responsible for orchestrating attacks by Houthi forces impacting Yemeni civilians, bordering nations, and commercial vessels in international waters. Those actions, which were done to advance the Iranian regime’s destabilizing agenda, have fueled the Yemeni conflict, displacing more than one million people and pushing Yemen to the brink of famine.

Treasury also announced that OFAC joined the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce in imposing sanctions in response to Russia’s poisoning and subsequent imprisonment of Russian opposition figure Aleksey Navalny. Specifically, OFAC designated seven Russian government officials: Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Aleksandr Bortnikov, Chief of the Presidential Policy Directorate Andrei Yarin, First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Kiriyenko, Deputy Minister of Defense Aleksey Krivoruchko, Deputy Minister of Defense Pavel Popov, Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) director Alexander Kalashnikov, and Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov pursuant to Executive Order 13661 for serving as officials of the Russian government. OFAC also designated Bortnikov pursuant to E.O. 13382 for acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the Federal Security Service (FSB).

Identify information for those designated by these two OFAC actions can be found in yesterday's BankersOnline OFAC Update.

03/03/2021

OCC issues three Outstanding CRA ratings

The OCC has released a list of 13 Community Reinvestment Act performance evaluations that were made public in February. Nine of the evaluations listed were rated satisfactory and one was rated needs to improve. Our congratulations to these three banks whose evaluations received outstanding ratings:

03/02/2021

Whistleblowers awarded over $500,000

The Securities and Exchange Commission has announced an award of over $500,000 to two whistleblowers whose tips revealed an ongoing fraud and resulted in multiple SEC actions and a related action from another government agency. Both whistleblowers provided substantial, ongoing assistance that conserved the agencies’ time and resources.

Approximately $753 million has been awarded to 140 individuals since the SEC issued its first award in 2012. All payments are made out of an investor protection fund established by Congress that is financed entirely through monetary sanctions paid to the Commission by securities law violators. No money has been taken or withheld from harmed investors to pay whistleblower awards. Whistleblowers may be eligible for an award when they voluntarily provide the Commission with original, timely, and credible information that leads to a successful enforcement action. Awards can range from 10 percent to 30 percent of the money collected when the monetary sanctions exceed $1 million.

03/02/2021

FEMA schedules community suspensions from flood program

FEMA has published [86 FR 12117] in the March 2, 2021, Federal Register a notice that communities in Florida, Minnesota, Missouri and Ohio have been scheduled for suspension from the National Flood Insurance Program on March 9, 2021, for noncompliance with the floodplain management requirements of the program. The communities listed are:

  • Florida: Port St. Joe and unincorporated areas of Gulf County
  • Minnesota: Plummer and unincorporated areas of Red Lake County
  • Missouri: Unincorporated areas of St. Charles County
  • Ohio: Amherst, Avon Lake, Defiance, Lorain, Sheffield, Sheffield Lake, Vermilion, and unincorporated areas of Lorain County

If FEMA receives before March 9 the required documentation that a listed community has adopted the floodplain management requirements, the community will not be suspended.

03/01/2021

FDIC posts 2nd and 3rd quarter CRA exam schedules

The FDIC has posted CRA examination schedules for the second and third quarters of 2021.

03/01/2021

IRS reminder to businesses to file Form 8300

The IRS has issued a reminder to businesses of their responsibility to file Form 8300, Report of Cash Payments Over $10,000 and encourages e-filing to help them file accurate, complete forms. Although many cash transactions are legitimate, information reported on Form 8300 can help stop those who evade taxes, profit from drug trading, engage in terrorist financing and conduct other criminal activities. The government can often trace money from these illegal activities through payments reported on complete, accurate forms.

To help businesses prepare and file reports, the IRS created a video on How to Complete Form 8300 – Part I, Part II. The short video points out sections of Form 8300 in which the IRS commonly finds mistakes and explains how to accurately complete those sections.

03/01/2021

U.S. sanctions former Saudi official and Rapid Intervention Force

OFAC has sanctioned Ahmad Hassan Mohammed al Asiri, Saudi Arabia’s former Deputy Head of General Intelligence Presidency, and Saudi Arabia’s Rapid Intervention Force in connection with the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The designations were made pursuant to Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world. Identity information can be found in BankersOnline's OFAC Update.

02/26/2021

FFIEC BSA/AML Exam Manual updates

The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) has released updates to four sections of the FFIEC Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) Examination Manual:

The updates should not be interpreted as new instructions or as a new or increased focus on certain areas; instead, they offer further transparency into the examination process and support risk-focused examination work.

The Manual provides instructions to examiners for assessing the adequacy of a bank’s or credit union’s BSA/AML compliance program and its compliance with BSA regulatory requirements. The Manual itself does not establish requirements for banks; such requirements are found in statutes and regulations.

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