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Top Story Compliance Related

10/23/2020

CFPB ANPR on consumer access to financial records

The CFPB announced yesterday an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) requesting information related to consumer access to financial records.

The CFPB is asking the public how it might most efficiently and effectively develop regulations to implement Section 1033 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which provides for consumer rights to access financial records. When consumers use financial products and services, the providers of those products and services generally accumulate data about those consumers and their use of those products and services. Consumer access to these data allow consumers to manage their financial accounts and can enhance consumers’ control of their financial matters.

Consumers may realize these benefits by authorizing third parties to access these data on their behalf and allowing those third parties to deliver new or improved financial products and services. Use cases for consumer-authorized data include personal financial management, making and receiving payments, assisting consumers with improving savings outcomes, underwriting credit, and many other services.

While consumer access to financial records can enable the development of innovative and beneficial consumer financial products, it can also present consumer risks. The Bureau’s ANPR seeks comments and information on costs and benefits of consumer data access; competitive incentives; standard-setting; access scope; consumer control and privacy; and data security and accuracy.

Comments on the ANPR will be accepted for 90 days following its publication in the Federal Register.

10/23/2020

Goldman Sachs fined $2.9B

The Federal Reserve Board has announced it has issued an order to cease and desist and for assessment of a civil money penalty of $154 million against Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., for the firm's failure to maintain appropriate oversight, internal controls, and risk management with respect to Goldman's involvement in a far-reaching scheme to defraud a Malaysian state-owned investment and development company, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

In 2012 and 2013, Goldman arranged and underwrote three bond offerings that raised $6.5 billion for 1MDB. Certain former Goldman bankers in Asia participated in a scheme with Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho and others to divert substantial portions of the proceeds from the 1MDB offerings for their personal benefit and to pay bribes to certain foreign government officials. Goldman's transaction approval processes and internal controls failed to detect or prevent the scheme or to address obvious red flags around the 1MDB offerings.

The Board is requiring Goldman to improve its risk management and oversight of significant and complex transactions, enhance its due diligence related to these transactions, and improve its anti-bribery compliance program. The Board's action is being taken in conjunction with actions by other authorities including the U.S. Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the New York Department of Financial Services, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, and the Bank of England Prudential Regulation Authority, and other foreign authorities. The penalties and disgorgement announced by all of the agencies total approximately $2.9 billion.

10/23/2020

High ranking Hizballah officials and entities designated

OFAC has announced counter terrorism designations, Iran-related designations and updates, foreign interference in U.S. election designations, and a Syria designation update.

  • Two members of Hizballah’s Central Council—Nabil Qaouk and Hassan al-Baghdadi. The Central Council is responsible for identifying and electing the group’s highest decision-making body, the Shura Council, which formulates policy and asserts control over all aspects of Hizballah’s activities, including its military activities.
  • Iraj Masjedi, a general in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and Iran’s Ambassador to Iraq.
  • Five Iranian entities for attempting to influence elections in the United States

The full SDN listings of each of the individuals and entities designated can be found in this BankersOnline OFAC Update.

10/21/2020

Agencies' rule to reduce impact of large bank failures

The federal bank regulatory agencies—The OCC, Federal Reserve Board, and FDIC—have finalized a rule to limit the interconnectedness and reduce the impact from failure of the largest banking organizations. The final rule is substantially similar to the proposal announced last year and complements other measures that the agencies have taken to limit interconnectedness among the largest banking organizations.

U.S. global systemically important bank holding companies, or GSIBs, as well as U.S. intermediate holding companies of foreign GSIBs, are required to issue debt with certain features under the Federal Reserve Board’s “total loss-absorbing capacity,” or TLAC, rule. That debt could be used to recapitalize the holding company during bankruptcy or resolution if it were to fail.

To discourage the largest banking organizations from purchasing TLAC debt, the final rule prescribes a more stringent regulatory capital treatment for holdings of TLAC debt. The regulatory capital treatment in the final rule will help to reduce the interconnectedness between the largest banking organizations and, if a GSIB were to fail, reduce the impact on the U.S. financial system from that failure.

This rulemaking, which becomes effective April 1, 2021, also includes a revision to the Federal Reserve Board’s TLAC requirements that will require GSIBs to report publicly their outstanding TLAC debt.

10/21/2020

FDIC approves temporary Part 363 amendment

The FDIC has issued an interim final rule to provide relief for insured depository institutions that have experienced large cash inflows resulting from participation in the Paycheck Protection Program, the Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility, and the Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility, or due to other factors such as the effects of other government stimulus efforts, and, absent regulatory action, would be required to incur substantial costs on a temporary basis.

The rule will allow IDIs that have experienced growth to determine whether they are subject to the requirements of Part 363 of the FDIC’s regulations for fiscal years ending in 2021 based on the consolidated total assets as of December 31, 2019. Such IDIs, whose asset growth may be temporary but significant, would be otherwise required to develop processes and systems to comply with the annual independent audits and reporting requirements of Part 363 on a potentially short-term basis.

The rule is effective immediately and remains effective through December 31, 2021, unless extended by the FDIC. Comments on the rule will be accepted for 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

PUBLICATION UPDATE: This rule was published at 85 FR 67427 on October 23, 2020. The comment period will end on Monday, November 23, 2020.

10/21/2020

OFAC settlement with Berkshire Hathaway

OFAC has announced a $4,144,651 settlement with Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. (“Berkshire”), a multinational conglomerate holding company based in Omaha Nebraska, and its foreign subsidiary, Iscar Kesici Takim Ticareti ve Imalati Limited Sirket (“Iscar Turkey”).

Berkshire, on behalf of itself and its subsidiary located in Turkey, has agreed to settle its potential civil liability for 144 apparent violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 560 (ITSR). Specifically, between December 2012 and January 2016, Iscar Turkey exported 144 shipments of cutting tools and related inserts, with a total value of $383,443, to two third-party Turkish distributors knowing that such goods would be shipped to a distributor in Iran for resale to Iranian end-users, including several entities later identified as meeting the definition of the Government of Iran, which would have been prohibited if engaged in by a U.S. person. These transactions appear to have violated § 560.215 of the ITSR. OFAC determined that Berkshire voluntarily self-disclosed the apparent violations on behalf of Iscar Turkey, and that the apparent violations constitute an egregious case.

According to OFAC's Enforcement Release, Iscar Turkey's action violated Berkshire's compliance policies, and Iscar Turkey took steps to obfuscate its dealings with Iran, including concealing these activities from Berkshire. The Apparent Violations occurred under the direction of certain Iscar Turkey senior managers despite Berkshire and other Berkshire subsidiaries’ repeated communications and policies sent to Iscar Turkey regarding U.S. sanctions against Iran and the application of the ITSR to Iscar Turkey’s operations. The General Manager and his employees took certain steps to conceal Iscar Turkey’s activities and plans with Iran such as: (1) utilizing private email addresses that bypassed the controls and visibility of the corporate email system to communicate about orders from Iranian customers; (2) utilizing false names in internal records of Iscar Turkey to conceal transactions; (3) providing false assurances in response to compliance inquiries; (4) providing fraudulent evidence of a compliance training session; and, (5) when the internal investigation was initiated, lying to interviewers and counseling others to lie.

Berkshire voluntarily self-disclosed the apparent violations to OFAC in May 2016 after receiving an anonymous tip in January 2016. Berkshire followed with multiple mitigating actions in cooperation with the OFAC investigation. Those mitigating actions helped reduce the base civil monetary penalty for the violations from $18.4 million to the settlement amount of $4,144,651.

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.

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