AML Priorities Ahead

Compliance Alliance is committed to bringing you the latest developments in federal banking regulation and the resources to stay compliant. With how fast the regulatory landscape has been changing in the past year, it is nice when the federal banking agencies preview upcoming changes and let us into their thought processes. Following consultation with other relevant Department of the Treasury offices, as well as Federal and State regulators, law enforcement, and national security agencies, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued the first government-wide priorities for anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) policy (the “Priorities”). The Priorities identify and describe the most significant AML/CFT threats currently facing the United States. The Priorities include corruption, cybercrime, domestic and international terrorist financing, fraud, transnational criminal organizations, drug trafficking organizations, human trafficking and human smuggling, and proliferation financing. Because money laundering is linked to all of the Priorities, combating money laundering remains core to FinCEN’s mission. The formal announcement discusses the methodology FinCEN used to arrive at these Priorities and discusses the impact on the financial system. FinCEN also issued Interagency Statement on the Issuance of the Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism National Priorities and Statement on the Issuance of the Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) National Priorities to provide guidance to covered institutions on how to approach the Priorities. 

The publication of the Priorities makes no immediate changes to Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) requirements or supervisory expectations for banks. Within 180 days of the establishment of the AML/CFT Priorities, FinCEN (in consultation with Federal functional regulators and relevant State financial regulators) will promulgate regulations regarding the AML/CFT Priorities. Although not required by the AML Act, the federal banking agencies plan to revise their BSA regulations, as necessary, to address how the AML/CFT Priorities will be incorporated into banks’ BSA requirements. As these rules are proposed and finalized, you can count on Compliance Alliance to summarize them and provide the guidance you need to comply with the upcoming changes.

While banks are not required to incorporate the AML/CFT Priorities into their risk-based BSA compliance programs until the effective date of the final revised regulations, FinCEN suggests that in preparation for any new requirements, “banks may wish to start considering how they will incorporate the AML/CFT Priorities into their risk-based BSA compliance programs, such as by assessing the potential related risks associated with the products and services they offer, the customers they serve, and the geographic areas in which they operate.” As part of this process, our members have access to the tools in our BSA AML OFAC Toolkit, with tools like our BSA/AML/OFAC Overall Risk Assessment, and recent webinars on BSA requirements. Our latest webinar, Annual BSA/AML Training 2021, walks you through the main components which make up your BSA/AML program and provides an overview of the expectations, requirements, and best practices of BSA/AML.