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FinCEN issues new AML enforcement guidance

The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network or FinCEN released new guidance this month that sets out its approach to enforcement practices and reassures financial institutions about the agency’s “clarity and transparency.”

FinCEN is the primary regulator and administrator of the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act. The BSA sets AML standards for covered financial institutions such as banks, securities broker-dealers, money services businesses, casinos, and card clubs.

FinCEN director Kenneth Blanco said his agency is “committed to being transparent about its approach to BSA enforcement.”

“It is not a ‘gotcha’ game,” Blanco said.

One reason for more transparency about enforcement standards is to encourage covered financial institutions to self-report non-compliance with anti-money laundering regulations, FinCEN said.

The new guidance describes what information FinCEN analyzes before it determines the “appropriate outcome to violations.”

FinCEN’s enforcement measures can range from warning letters to civil financial penalties. It can also make criminal referrals to the DOJ or other law enforcement agencies “if circumstances warrant.”

FinCEN said it will examine an AML program’s compliance with so-called “pillar” requirements.

In prior guidance and enforcement actions, FinCEN said pillar violations include the lack of internal controls, not providing training and independent testing, or failing to designate one or more individuals to assure day-to-day compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act.

Download FinCEN’s August 18, 2020 Statement on Enforcement of the Bank Secrecy Act here.

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