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11/06/2020

FinCEN renews GTOs

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has announced the renewal of its Geographic Targeting Orders (GTOs) that require U.S. title insurance companies to identify the natural persons behind shell companies used in all-cash purchases of residential real estate. The renewed GTOs are identical to the May 2020 GTOs. The purchase amount threshold remains $300,000 for each covered metropolitan area. The terms of this Order are effective beginning November 6, 2020 and ending on May 4, 2021.

The new GTOs cover certain counties within these major U.S. metropolitan areas: Boston; Chicago; Dallas-Fort Worth; Honolulu; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Miami; New York City; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; and Seattle.

FinCEN's GTOs do not require banks to take any action. We report on them because they may affect a bank's customers.

11/06/2020

OCC Director’s Toolkit updated

The OCC has announced the update of its Director’s Toolkit to help bank directors for national banks and federal savings associations fulfill their corporate governance responsibilities. The Toolkit is a helpful guide for bank directors on strategic issues, risk management, and compliance responsibilities. The updated toolkit includes a revised Director's Book: Role of Directors for National Banks and Federal Savings Associations and adds a new publication, the Director’s Reference Guide to Board Reports and Information.

11/06/2020

FOMC statement issued

The Federal Reserve Board has voted unanimously to maintain the interest rate paid on required and excess reserve balances at 0.10 percent, effective November 6, 2020. As part of its policy decision, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to authorize and direct the Open Market Desk at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, until instructed otherwise, to execute transactions in the System Open Market Account in accordance with the following domestic policy directive:

  • Undertake open market operations as necessary to maintain the federal funds rate in a target range of 0 to 1/4 percent.
  • Increase the System Open Market Account holdings of Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) at the current pace. Increase holdings of Treasury securities and agency MBS by additional amounts and purchase agency commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) as needed to sustain smooth functioning of markets for these securities
  • Conduct term and overnight repurchase agreement operations to support effective policy implementation and the smooth functioning of short-term U.S. dollar funding markets.
  • Conduct overnight reverse repurchase agreement operations at an offering rate of 0.00 percent and with a per-counterparty limit of $30 billion per day; the per-counterparty limit can be temporarily increased at the discretion of the Chair.
  • Roll over at auction all principal payments from the Federal Reserve's holdings of Treasury securities and reinvest all principal payments from the Federal Reserve's holdings of agency debt and agency MBS in agency MBS.
  • Allow modest deviations from stated amounts for purchases and reinvestments, if needed for operational reasons.
  • Engage in dollar roll and coupon swap transactions as necessary to facilitate settlement of the Federal Reserve's agency MBS transactions.

The Board also voted unanimously to approve the maintain the primary credit rate at the existing level of 0.25 percent.

11/05/2020

Refunds for victims of cryptocurrencies referral schemes

The Federal Trade Commission has announced it is sending PayPal payments totaling more than $470,000 to people who lost money to deceptive chain referral schemes involving cryptocurrencies. Promoters of Bitcoin Funding Team and My7Network falsely promised that participants could earn large amounts of money by paying cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin or Litecoin to enroll in the schemes. However, Bitcoin Funding Team and My7Network were chain referral schemes that depended on the recruitment of new people to make money. In fact, most participants failed to recoup their initial investments. The FTC will send 7,964 refunds through PayPal beginning on November 5, 2020. The average refund is approximately $59. Recipients who receive a refund via PayPal will have 30 days to accept the payment.

11/05/2020

COVID text scam warning from IRS

The IRS, state tax agencies, and the tax industry yesterday warned of a new text scam created by thieves that trick people into disclosing bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 Economic Impact Payment. "Criminals are relentlessly using COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments as cover to try to trick taxpayers out of their money or identities," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "This scam is a new twist on those we've been seeing much of this year. We urge people to remain alert to these types of scams."

The scam text message states: "You have received a direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 TREAS FUND. Further action is required to accept this payment into your account. Continue here to accept this payment …" The text includes a link to a fake phishing web address. People who receive this text scam should take a screen shot of the text message that they received and then include the screenshot in an email to phishing@irs.gov with the following information:

  • Date/Time/Timezone that they received the text message
  • The number that appeared on their Caller ID
  • The number that received the text message

People who believe they are eligible for the Economic Impact ("Stimulus") Payment should go directly to IRS.gov. People who do not have a filing requirement but who are eligible for EIP can use a non-filers tool on IRS.gov until November 21 to claim their payment.

11/05/2020

Treasury Department quarterly refunding statement

The Treasury Department has announced it is offering $122 billion of Treasury securities to refund approximately $60.9 billion of privately-held Treasury notes maturing on November 15, 2020. This issuance will raise new cash of approximately $61.1 billion. The securities are:

  • A 3-year note in the amount of $54 billion, maturing November 15, 2023;
  • A 10-year note in the amount of $41 billion, maturing November 15, 2030; and
  • A 30-year bond in the amount of $27 billion, maturing November 15, 2050.

The 3-year note will be auctioned on a yield basis at 1:00 p.m. ET on Monday, November 9, 2020. The 10-year note will be auctioned on a yield basis at 1:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, November 10, 2020. The 30-year bond will be auctioned on a yield basis at 1:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, November 12, 2020. All of these auctions will settle on Monday, November 16, 2020.

11/03/2020

October 2020 foreign exchange rates

The Federal Reserve System has posted G.5 Monthly Exchange Rates data for October 2020.

11/03/2020

OFAC advisory on risks in dealing in costly artwork

OFAC has issued an "Advisory and Guidance on Potential Sanctions Risks Arising from Dealings in High-Value Artwork," to highlight sanctions risks arising from dealings in high-value artwork associated with persons blocked pursuant to OFAC’s authorities, including persons on OFAC’s List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List). Such transactions may play a role in blocked persons accessing the U.S. market and financial system in violation of OFAC regulations.

The advisory describes characteristics of the market for high-value artwork that pose sanctions risks; emphasizes to art galleries, museums, private art collectors, auction companies, agents, brokers, and other participants in the art market the importance of maintaining a risk-based compliance program to mitigate such risks; and highlights that what is commonly described as the "Berman Amendment" to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA) does not categorically exempt all dealings in artwork from OFAC regulation and enforcement.

11/02/2020

FDIC September enforcement orders

The FDIC has issued a list of enforcement orders issued in September, 2020.

  • Banks in Sauk City ($18,500) and Berlin ($15,375), Wisconsin, paid civil money penalties for flood insurance violations
  • The former president of Enloe State Bank, Cooper, Texas (now in receivership) was issued a prohibition order, after an FDIC finding that she originated a significant number of fictitious loans from which she benefited and that led to the bank's financial losses.
  • A former branch manager for First Community Bank, Batesville, Arkansas, was issued a prohibition order after an FDIC finding that she had made unauthorized and fraudulent withdrawals from bank customers' certificate of deposit accounts, from which she received financial gain or other benefit.
  • A former commercial lender for Synovus Bank, Columbus, Georgia, was issued a prohibition order for misappropriation of funds through the creation of a fictitious line of credit, and unauthorized draws from a customer's line of credit and from another customer's account.

11/02/2020

Interagency large bank operational resilience paper

The Federal Reserve Board, FDIC, and OCC have announced their release of a paper, "Sound Practices to Strengthen Operational Resilience," designed to help large banks increase operational resilience. Examples of risks to operational resilience include cyberattacks, natural disasters, and pandemics.

The paper outlines practices to increase operational resilience that are drawn from existing regulations, guidance, statements, and common industry standards. The practices are grounded in effective governance and risk management techniques, consider third-party risks, and include resilient information systems. The paper does not revise the agencies' existing rules or guidance.

The practices are for domestic banks with more than $250 billion in total consolidated assets or banks with more than $100 billion in total assets and other risk characteristics. An Explanatory Note was also posted.

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