Agencies vow to alter rules reflecting new AML/CFT priorities

(July 2, 2021) Plans for future Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) rule changes to incorporate just-issued national priorities for combatting money laundering and financing of terrorism were outlined this week in an interagency statement from NCUA and other federal financial regulators. NCUA also issued a “letter to credit unions” (21-CU-05) on the topic.

The priorities, issued by Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), describe “the most significant AML/CFT (anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism) threats currently facing the United States,” according to the agency. The priorities outlined by FinCEN include corruption, cybercrime, domestic and international terrorist financing, fraud, transnational criminal organizations, drug trafficking organizations, human trafficking and human smuggling, and proliferation financing.

FinCEN said the priorities are meant to assist covered institutions in their AML/CFT efforts and enable them to prioritize the use of their compliance resources. It said the priorities highlight key threat trends as well as informational resources that can help institutions in managing their risks.

NCUA (as stated in its letter to credit unions) and bank regulators said that while not required to do so, the agencies plan to propose changes to their own BSA rules addressing the priorities. Banks and credit unions (as well as nonbanks, the target of a separate FinCEN statement) are not required to make any changes in their risk-based BSA compliance programs, and examiners will not review institutions for incorporation of the AML/CFT priorities into those programs, until the effective date of a final rule, the agencies and FinCEN said.

In its letter, NCUA said credit unions “may wish to start considering how they will incorporate the AML/CFT Priorities into their risk- based BSA compliance programs.” The banking agencies advised the same for their supervised entities, noting that incorporation could include 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.”

No target date for a proposed rule was offered by any of the regulators. However, FinCEN pointed out that the AML Act requires that the agency promulgate rules to implement the priorities within 180 days of their publication.


Interagency Statement on the Issuance of the Anti-Money Laundering/ Countering the Financing of Terrorism National Priorities

Letter to Credit Unions (21-CU-05) Interagency Statement on the Issuance of the Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism National Priorities