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Top Story Compliance Related

09/22/2020

OFAC targets key Iran nuclear and ballistic missile program actors

On Monday, Treasury announced that OFAC had sanctioned three deputy directors of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and a number of its subsidiaries. Companies supplying equipment for Iran’s ballistic missile production overseen by Iran’s Aerospace Industries Organization and senior officials working on Iran’s missile programs were also designated. The actions by Treasury, the Department of State, and the Department of Commerce target entities and personnel directly involved in Iran’s nuclear, ballistic missile, and conventional arms programs.

Identification information on the designated individuals and entities and several updates to OFAC's SDN lists can be found in BankersOnline's OFAC Update.

09/22/2020

Fed ANPR on CRA regs modernization

The Federal Reserve Board announced Monday an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking inviting public comment on an approach to modernize the regulations that implement the Community Reinvestment Act by strengthening, clarifying, and tailoring them to reflect the current banking landscape and better meet the core purpose of the CRA. The ANPR seeks feedback on ways to evaluate how banks meet the needs of low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities and address inequities in credit access.

Board Chair Jerome H. Powell said, "By releasing a thoughtful and balanced ANPR and providing a long period for comment, the Federal Reserve is hoping to build a foundation for the banking agencies to come together on a consistent approach to CRA that has the broad support of the intended beneficiaries as well as banks of different sizes and business models."

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency published a final rule to modernize its CRA regulations on June 5, 2020, with an October 1, 2020, effective date (but a compliance date of January 1, 2023). The FDIC did not join the OCC in issuing a final rule at that time, although the OCC and FDIC had jointly issued a proposal.

The Federal Reserve said its proposal will have a 120-day comment period starting when it is published in the Federal Register.

09/21/2020

FDIC Oregon wildfire and wind relief

The FDIC has issued FIL-91-2020 with guidance on steps intended to provide regulatory relief to financial institutions and facilitate recovery in areas of Oregon affected by wildfires and straight-line winds starting September 7, 2020.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency declared a federal disaster for selected areas affected in Oregon on September 15, 2020. FEMA may make additional designations after damage assessments are completed in the affected areas. A current list of designated areas is available at www.fema.gov.

The FDIC encouraged banks to work constructively with borrowers experiencing difficulties beyond their control because of damage caused by the wildfires and straight-line winds. Banks that extend repayment terms, restructure existing loans, or ease terms for new loans in a manner consistent with sound banking practices, can contribute to the health of the local community and serve the long-term interests of the lending institution and may receive favorable Community Reinvestment Act consideration for community development loans, investments, and services in support of disaster recovery. The FDIC also will consider regulatory relief from certain filing and publishing requirements.

09/21/2020

FEMA suspends communities in AK, AZ, IA and WA

FEMA published [85 FR 58294] in Friday's Federal Register a notice that it was suspending, as of September 18, communities in Alaska, Arizona, Iowa and Washington from the National Flood Insurance Program for noncompliance with the floodplain management requirements of the program.

  • Alaska: Fairbanks Northstar Borough and the City and Borough of Juneau
  • Arizona: Goodyear
  • Iowa: Harpers Ferry, Lansing, Postville, Waterville, and unincorporated areas of Allamakee County
  • Washington: Chehalis Reservation, Elma, Montesano, Oakville, and unincorporated areas of Grays Harbor County

09/18/2020

SEC charges former tech company CEO

The Securities and Exchange Commission has announced it has filed an emergency action against Adam Rogas, the former CEO of Las-Vegas-based NS8 Inc., which purports to provide fraud detection and prevention software to e-commerce merchants, seeking an asset freeze and charging Rogas with defrauding investors by falsely claiming millions of dollars in revenue. The SEC complaint alleges Rogas, from at least 2018 through June 2020, altered NS8's bank statements to show millions of dollars in payments from customers. Rogas allegedly sent the falsified bank statements and revenue figures on a monthly basis to NS8's finance department, which used them to prepare NS8's financial statements. In at least two securities offerings, NS8 and Rogas allegedly provided investors and prospective investors the false financial statements, showing millions of dollars in revenue and assets and other information incorporating the falsified revenue figures. The SEC alleges that as a result of Rogas's fraud, NS8 raised approximately $123 million in 2019 and 2020, and that Rogas ultimately pocketed at least $17.5 million of investor funds.

09/18/2020

OCC enforcement actions

The OCC has released a list of enforcement orders issued in the month of August.

  • Two former senior vice presidents; the former chairman, CEO and president; and four former directors of City National Bank of New Jersey, Newark, New Jersey, were issued consent civil money penalty orders in amounts ranging from $3,000 to $70,000 (totaling $124,000) for their failures to ensure that the bank had an adequate BSA/AML compliance program, adequate risk controls, and adequate staffing of its BSA/AML function while the bank was taking on high-risk new accounts, including brokered deposits.
  • a former banker with People's United Bank, N.A., Bridgeport, Connecticut, was issued a consent prohibition order after the Comptroller found that she had stolen cash from her assigned cash drawer and made fraudulent entries so that the drawer appeared to be in balance

09/18/2020

OFAC targets Hizballah and Iranian cyber actors

The Treasury Department announced Thursday that OFAC has sanctioned two Lebanon-based companies, Arch Consulting and Meamar Construction, for being owned, controlled, or directed by Hizballah. Additionally, OFAC designated Sultan Khalifah As’ad, a Hizballah Executive Council official, who is closely associated with both companies.

Treasury also announced that OFAC has imposed sanctions on Iranian cyber threat group Advanced Persistent Threat 39, 45 associated individuals, and one front company, Rana Intelligence Computing Company, through which the Government of Iran (GOI) employed a years-long malware campaign that targeted Iranian dissidents, journalists, and international companies in the travel sector. Concurrent with OFAC’s action, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released detailed information about APT39 in a public intelligence alert.

For identification information on the entities and individuals sanctioned by OFAC's actions, see BankersOnline's OFAC Update.

09/18/2020

Tech company settles liability for apparent OFAC violations

OFAC has announced an $894,111 settlement with Comtech Telecommunications Corp., based in Melville, New York, and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Comtech EF Data Corp., headquartered in Tempe, Arizona for four apparent violations of the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations.

Between June 2014 and October 2015, Comtech, through its subsidiary EF Data, indirectly exported warrantied satellite equipment and facilitated services and training to a government-owned entity in Sudan in apparent violation of the SSR. OFAC determined that Comtech voluntarily disclosed the apparent violations and that the apparent violations constituted an egregious case.

09/17/2020

FATF AML and Terrorist Financing report

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has released a report, Virtual Assets – Red Flag Indicators of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, to help national authorities detect whether virtual assets are being used for criminal activity. Based on more than 100 case studies collected by members of the FATF Global Network, it highlights the most important red flag indicators that could suggest criminal behavior. Key indicators in this report focus on:

  • Technological features that increase anonymity, such as the use of peer-to-peer exchanges websites, mixing or tumbling services or anonymity-enhanced cryptocurrencies
  • Geographical risks – criminals can exploit countries with weak, or absent, national measures for virtual assets
  • Transaction patterns that are irregular, unusual or uncommon, which can suggest criminal activity
  • Transaction size – if the amount and frequency has no logical business explanation
  • Sender or recipient profiles – unusual behavior can suggest criminal activity
  • Source of funds or wealth, which can relate to criminal activity

09/17/2020

States and FTC halt charity scam

The Federal Trade Commission reports a sprawling fundraising operation that allegedly scammed consumers out of millions of dollars will be permanently banned from charitable fundraising along with its owner and others involved in its operation as a result of a lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission and Attorneys General of New York, Virginia, Minnesota, and New Jersey. A complaint filed by the Commission and the states alleges that the defendants served as the primary fundraisers for a number of sham charities that were the subject of numerous law enforcement actions. It also alleges that the sham charities claimed to use consumers’ donations to help homeless veterans, retired and disabled law enforcement officers, breast cancer survivors, and others in need. In fact, these organizations spent almost none of the donations on the promised activities.

Under the proposed settlements, all of the defendants will be permanently prohibited from participating in any charity fundraising, and from deceiving consumers in any other fundraising effort, including for political action committees (PACs). The defendants will be required to clearly inform consumers at the time they ask for money that any donations are not charitable and not eligible for tax deductions. In addition, the defendants will be subject to significant monetary judgments and required to surrender assets. The funds being surrendered by the defendants will be paid to the State of New York, which will contribute the funds on behalf of New York, Virginia, and New Jersey to legitimate charities that perform services that mirror those promised by the sham charities.

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