Tagged: Money Laundering

A Money Laundering Nightmare: Western Union Ponies Up $770 Million to Settle with DOJ, FTC and FinCEN

Earlier this year, in January 2017, Western Union entered into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the Justice Department and the FTC, and agreed to pay $586 in forfeiture to settle anti-money laundering and consumer fraud violations. At the same time, Western Union agreed to pay $184 million in civil monetary penalties for AML violations. The Western Union prosecution sends an important reminder to financial institutions,...

FinCEN Expands Crackdown on Real Estate Buyers

Building on early successes, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) announced new rules targeting buyers of high-end real estate properties.  (Here). Earlier this year, FinCEN adopted rules focusing on high-end buyers of real estate in Miami and New York City. The new rules required title companies to report the beneficial owners of limited liability companies and shell companies which use cash to purchase high-end real...

Addressing AML Risks in the Era of Aggressive Enforcement

The resurgence in anti-money laundering enforcement in the last few years reflects the overall improvement in the banking industry and recovery from the financial collapse. Federal prosecutors and regulators have renewed their interest in AML compliance lapses, particularly in the area of sanctions/OFAC violations. FinCEN, the primary regulatory agency responsible for enforcement, has both diversified its targets and increased its enforcement efforts. For years, FinCEN...

AML Risks and Foreign Correspondent Banking

With the Panama Papers scandal and government promises of continued aggressive AML enforcement, financial institutions face a variety of risks that require increased vigilance and mitigation strategies. One of the most challenging risks facing all financial institutions is foreign correspondent banking. In essence, a foreign correspondent banking relationship is built on the effectiveness of a foreign bank’s AML compliance program and ongoing monitoring capabilities. Such...

Revisiting FinCEN’s Proposed Regulations on Beneficial Ownership

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. – Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues Political winds are important for a number of reasons. When working in the government, you have to seize the political opportunities to advance practical proposals. When it comes to requiring banks and financial institutions to collect beneficial ownership information from account holders and customers, the Panama Papers...

Panama Papers: Looking Below the Headlines

The media loves a scandal. In the banking and compliance world, the latest scandal to hit the media was the Panama Papers. The Panama Papers is surprising in scope – Panama has become the favorite financial haven for money launderers, PEPs and other miscreants. We have all seen this in the business world as Panamanian banks grew in rapid fashion. As the Cayman Islands, Switzerland...

Prosecuting CCOs v. Holding CCOs Accountable

There has been a lot written about CCOs fearing prosecution for compliance failures. Not to say there is no risk, but the truth lies really in the middle.  From my perspective, there is too much fear-mongering around this issue. Let’s look at one extreme – a CCO who engages in misconduct should be prosecuted. A good example of this case is the prosecution of Thomas...

Preventing Terrorism with AML Accountability AND Budgeting

Lauren Connell, Managing Associate at The Volkov Law Group, joins us again for a posting about anti-money laundering (AML), terrorism financing and CCO certifications.  Lauren’s profile is here, and she can be reached at lconnell@volkovlaw.com. Preventing money from getting to terrorists is a chief goal of AML programs. But at a basic level an AML program is only as strong as its budget, regardless of...

FinCEN Proposes to Apply AML/BSA Requirements to Investment Advisers

FinCEN is an active law enforcement agency. They have taken on more responsibility over the last five years for AML enforcement, and they show no signs of letting up. FinCEN’s proposal to expand beneficial ownership requirements for financial institutions is expected to be released before the end of the year. FinCEN’s proposal in this area will have a significant impact on companies subject to AML...

The 5 Most Common AML Compliance Program Deficiencies

Anti-money laundering compliance is a very difficult task. The number of risks is exponential. AML compliance officers have an innovative and rich history of compliance techniques and strategies. In the end, AML compliance depends on: accurate and comprehensive risk assessments; pre-screening of customers through appropriate KYC programs; and audit and monitoring of transaction and customer activity. Despite the commitment and dedication of AML compliance professionals,...