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FinCEN issues Small Entity Compliance Guide for BOI access

FinCEN has issued a Small Entity Compliance Guide for Beneficial Ownership Information Access and Safeguards Requirements to provide an overview of the Beneficial Ownership Information Access and Safeguards Rule (Access Rule) requirements for small entities (including financial institutions) that obtain beneficial ownership information (BOI) from FinCEN.

The preface of the Guide indicates it is explanatory only, does not supplement or modify any obligations imposed by statute or regulation, and does not supersede more recent guidance documents issued by FinCEN.

The Guide and other resource materials about the Beneficial Ownership Information Reporting rules can be found on FinCEN's BOI Reference Materials webpage.


U.S. sanctions two affiliates of Russian ransomware group

The Treasury Department on Tuesday reported that OFAC has designated two individuals who are affiliates of the Russia-based ransomware group LockBit. This action is the first in an ongoing collaborative effort with the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and international partners targeting LockBit.

For identification information on the two individuals, see BankersOnline's February 20, 2024, OFAC Update.


FCC order clarifies TCPA opt-out rules

The Federal Communications Commission has announced its adoption of new rules to further protect consumers from unwanted robocalls and robotexts. The new rule will make it simpler for consumers to revoke consent, and requires that callers and texters implement requests in a timely manner.

The new rules require that robocallers and robotexters honor do-not-call and consent revocation requests within a reasonable time, not to exceed 10 business days from receipt. Last week’s action also codifies the Commission’s 2015 ruling that consumers can revoke consent under the TCPA through any reasonable means.
Under the ruling, consumers will be able to opt out of test messages using “stop,” “quit,” “end,” “revoke,” “opt out,” “cancel,” or “unsubscribe" via reply text message as a per se reasonable means to revoke consent.

The ruling also adds to the FCC rules the Commission’s 2012 ruling that clarified that a one-time text message confirming a consumer’s request that no further text messages be sent does not violate the TCPA as long as the confirmation text merely confirms the called party’s opt-out request and does not include any marketing information.

The Commission also seeks comment on whether the TCPA applies to robocalls and robotexts from wireless providers to their own subscribers and whether consumers should have the ability to revoke consent and stop such communications.

The order becomes effective 30 days after Federal Register publication (with some exceptions).


Social Security proposes to use electronic payroll data

The Social Security Administration has published [89 FR 11773] a proposed rule, "Use of Electronic Payroll Data to Improve Program Administration," describing the agency’s plans for accessing and using information from payroll data providers to reduce improper payments, including overpayments, which improves service to customers.

Unreported, late reported, and incorrectly reported earnings are often a cause of overpayments for people who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. When a person has been overpaid, the law requires the agency to ask for repayment, which can create financial difficulties for beneficiaries.

Social Security is working to reduce wage-related improper payments by using its legal authority to establish information exchanges with payroll data providers. These exchanges will help ensure the agency receives timely and accurate wage data. These exchanges and the agency’s planned business process is called the Payroll Information Exchange (PIE).

PIE will help reduce manual reporting errors as well as the reporting burden for individuals who authorize Social Security to obtain their wage and employment information through these information exchanges and work for employers whose payroll data is available through the exchange. PIE will also help to more quickly identify wages that often go unreported or undetected and which can lead to improper payments.

Comments on the proposal will be accepted through April 15, 2024.


OCC enforcement actions for February 2024

The OCC has released its February 2024 list of enforcement actions taken against national banks and federal savings associations and related individuals.

  • The previously announced cease and desist order, order for civil money penalty, and Gramm-Leach-Bliley agreement issued to City National Bank, Los Angeles, California.
  • A cease and desist order against Blue Ridge Bank, N.A., Martinsville, Virginia, for unsafe or unsound practices, including those related to BSA/AML, capital ratios, capital and strategic planning, liquidity risk management, and information technology controls. The deficiencies in the BSA/AML compliance program resulted in violations of law, rule, or regulation, and the bank also failed to correct previously reported BSA problems.
  • A formal agreement with The First National Bank of St. Ignace, St. Ignace, Michigan, for unsafe or unsound practices, including those related to capital planning, capital stress testing, and strategic planning, and a violation of law, rule, or regulation related to payment of dividends.
  • An order of prohibition and for payment of a $50,000 civil money penalty against Stephen Adams, former senior vice president and managing director of residential lending, Sterling Bank and Trust, FSB, Southfield Michigan, for his role in failing to appropriately supervise, investigate, and discipline employees originating residential mortgage loans.
  • Orders of prohibition issued to—
    • Cole R. Mann, former branch manager, PNC Bank, National Association, Wilmington, Delaware, for stealing, embezzling, or otherwise misappropriating funds from the bank and a bank customer
    • Chimere Shanta Mitchell, former fraud and claims operations specialist at Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for misappropriating confidential information of bank customers, including more than 20 elderly customers, and selling the information to a third party, resulting in fraudulent transactions
    • Aaron Parsons, relationship banker and Webster Bank N.A., Stamford, Connecticut, for unauthorized withdrawals from accounts of bank customers, four of whom are elderly, and depositing the funds in his own bank account
    • Nyema'sha Taylor, former teller at Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for knowingly processing unauthorized cash withdrawals from a customer’s account
    • Francis Andujar Velazquez, former senior customer service representative, Santander Bank, Wilmington, Delaware, for misappropriating funds from customers’ accounts by making purchases using confidential bank customer information and selling confidential information of bank customers to a third party and facilitating fraudulent transactions
    • Mirsha Yamili Wilson, former associate Banker, JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., Columbus, Ohio, for taking cash used to supply a bank branch’s ATMs and concealing the shortage
  • Personal cease and desist orders against—
    • Colleen Kimmel, former general counsel, Sterling Bank and Trust, FSB, Southfield, Michigan, for her role in not ensuring the bank conducted or suggesting to the Board that the bank conduct an investigation into concerns related to a residential mortgage loan product, not ensuring the bank’s BSA program had an adequate system of internal controls, and not timely reporting suspicious activity related to certain residential mortgage loans
    • Jonathan Kolk, former residential underwriting manager, Sterling Bank and Trust, FSB, Southfield, Michigan, for capitulating to pressure to quickly underwrite certain residential mortgage loans and his role in underwriting, and supervising the underwriting of, loans that had false or fraudulent loan applications


OFAC amends North Korea Sanctions Regulations

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control has published [89 FR 12233] in today's Federal Register a final rule amending its North Korea Sanctions Regulations [31 C.F.R. 510] to modify a general license that authorizes certain transactions in support of specified humanitarian activities of nongovernmental organizations. Additionally, OFAC is adding general licenses to authorize the following: transactions related to the exportation and reexportation of items authorized by the U.S. Department of Commerce; the provision of certain agricultural commodities, medicine, and medical devices; and certain journalistic activities in North Korea.

The rule is effective today. OFAC also issued several new North Korea-related FAQs and amended three FAQs.


Treasury fact sheet on recent actions

Yesterday, the Treasury Department issued a Fact Sheet on recent actions taken to enhance financial transparency and combat illicit finance. These initiatives include major steps towards implementing the Anti-Money Laundering Act, including the Corporate Transparency Act, and supporting the Administration’s Strategy to Counter Corruption. Major initiatives include:

  • Increasing corporate transparency through beneficial ownership reporting as FinCEN implements the Corporate Transparency Act
  • Strengthening transparency in the residential real estate market with its February 2024 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to require certain professionals involved in real estate closings and settlements to report information to FinCEN about non-financed transfers of residential real estate to legal entities or trusts.
  • Protecting the investment adviser sector from abuse with its recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to require certain investment advisers to apply AML/CFT requirements pursuant to the Bank Secrecy Act, including implementing risk-based AML/CFT programs, reporting suspicious activity to FinCEN, and fulfilling relevant recordkeeping requirements. Related to this effort, Treasury also published a detailed risk assessment of the investment adviser sector that identified several illicit finance and national security risks.
  • Publication of the 2024 National Risk Assessments on Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Proliferation Financing.


OCC workshops for directors and senior managers

The OCC reports it has opened registration for its 2024 schedule of in-person workshops for board directors and senior management of national community banks and federal savings associations.

The OCC examiner-led workshops provide practical training and guidance to directors and senior management of national community banks and federal savings associations to support the safe and sound operation of community-based financial institutions.

The OCC offers five daylong workshops:

  • Building Blocks: Developing Strong Management
  • Risk Governance: Improving Effectiveness
  • Compliance Risk: Understanding the Rules
  • Credit Risk: Recognizing and Responding to Risk
  • Operational Risk: Navigating Rapid Changes

The OCC is also offering a half-day workshop, Capital Markets: Keeping Current. This workshop covers balance sheet management risks, as well as hot topics and risk themes for bankers and regulators in the capital markets area.

Workshops are limited to 35 participants. Attendees will receive course materials, supervisory publications, and lunch.

Schedules, locations, cost and fee waiver information, and online registration are available on the OCC's website.


OFAC sanctions network smuggling U.S. tech to Central Bank of Iran

The U.S. Department of the Treasury yesterday announced that OFAC has a procurement network responsible for facilitating the illegal export of goods and technology from over two dozen U.S. companies to end-users in Iran, including the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), which is designated for its role in providing financial support to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and Hizballah. These designations target three individuals and four entities tied to the procurement of sophisticated U.S. technology for use by CBI in violation of U.S. export restrictions and sanctions.

Among the goods and technology acquired by CBI were items classified as information security items subject to national security and anti-terrorism controls by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security.

For the names and identification information of the designated entities and individuals, see BankersOnline's February 14, 2024, OFAC Update.


FinCEN sees increase in reports of use of CVC for child exploitation and human trafficking

Yesterday, FinCEN issued a Financial Trend Analysis (FTA) reflecting an increase in Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) reporting associated with the use of convertible virtual currency (CVC) and online child sexual exploitation (OCSE) and human trafficking. This FTA is based on BSA reporting filed between January 2020 and December 2021.

The analysis detailed in this FTA furthers Treasury efforts to combat human trafficking as well as the illicit uses of CVC. For example, Brian Nelson, Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, announced at the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking that FinCEN has joined the Canadian financial intelligence unit’s Project Protect—a flagship public-private partnership on human trafficking. In addition, in June 2021, FinCEN identified human trafficking and cybercrime as among the “Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism National Priorities” issued pursuant to the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020.

More recently, in October 2023, FinCEN issued a finding pursuant to Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act that CVC mixing is a class of transactions of primary money laundering concern and proposed reporting requirements to increase transparency in connection with CVC mixing.

FinCEN’s analysis highlights the value of BSA reporting filed by regulated financial institutions.


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