Banks, Credit Unions and Other Financial Insitutions as Deputized Law Enforcement

From Anti-Money Laundering to Immigration Enforcement: Time to Reassess the Law Enforcement Role of Banks, Credit Unions and Other Financial Intermediaries.  “Credit unions are deeply committed to the fight against crime, but it is important to recognize we are not law enforcement agents and we have certain fundamental limitations.” This statement, made by the Senior Vice President and General Counsel of a major U.S. credit union in testimony before Congress in July 2017,[1] reflects the legal and regulatory requirements and expectations that banks, credit unions, money services businesses, and other financial intermediaries can, must, and should play a role in combatting the misuse of the financial system for illicit purposes.… Read More

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Hdeel Abdelhady Discussed the NYDFS Habib Bank Enforcement Action

MassPoint’s Founder and Principal, Hdeel Abdelhady, discussed the legal significance and potential commercial implications of the NYDFS’ enforcement action against Habib Bank at a time of correspondent banking derisking. Ms. Abdelhady stated that: “at any time, the loss a New York banking license and direct access to the U.S. financial system would be devastating, but the potential implications of the lost license may be greater now given that U.S. banks have steadily exited or limited foreign correspondent relationships in recent years, leaving foreign banks cut off from or with limited or costly access to the U.S. dollar and financial system.” Read Ms. Abdelhady’s full comments here in this comprehensive piece, by… Read More

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House Bill Would Establish National Strategy for Combating Terrorism Financing

On July 20, 2017, Representative Ted Budd (R-NC) introduced in the House of Representatives H.R. 3321, the “National Strategy for Combating Terrorist, Underground, and Other Illicit Financing Act.” The purpose of H.R. 3321 is to “require the establishment of a national strategy for combating the financing of terrorism and related financial crimes, and for other purposes.” As summarized by the House Financial Services Committee, which will meet to markup the bill on July 25, 2017, H.R. 3321 would among other measures “require the President, acting through the Treasury Secretary, to develop and publish a whole-of-government strategy to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.” The text of H.R. 3321 is available here.  ****  For more information about… Read More

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Congressional Hearing: Managing Terrorism Financing Risk in Remittances and Money Transfers

Congressional Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on Terrorism Financing Risk in Remittances and Money Transfers  The U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee (the “FSC“) Terrorism and Illicit Finance Subcommittee will on July 18, 2017 hold a hearing entitled “Managing Terrorism Financing Risk in Remittances and Money Transfers.”  The FSC memorandum to all of its members states that the “hearing will explore the terrorist and illicit financing risks that are inherent in any form of asset transfer whether through formal banking channels, MSBs, other legitimate remittance networks, or through informal and unregulated value-transfer systems.”  Concerns about the terrorism financing risks posed by non-bank facilitated money transfers have been constant since 9/11. The FSC’s memorandum describing… Read More

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Correspondent Banking and Derisking Update

Financial Stability Board Publishes Action Plan to Address Decline in Correspondent Banking/Derisking Correspondent Banking Update |  July 4, 2017  | Author: Hdeel Abdelhady Ahead of the upcoming G20 meeting, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) published today, July 4, 2017, a progress report on efforts to address the withdrawal of correspondent banking relationships (derisking) and its action plan to assess and address derisking. Among the areas of concern and action items identified by the FSB are remittances and building the capacity of affected respondent bank jurisdictions to effectively identify and counter money laundering, terrorism finance, and other illicit financial activities. Importantly, the FSB has stated that its efforts will focus not just… Read More

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Basel Committee Clarifies Guidance on Countering Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing in Correspondent Banking

Guidelines on Sound management of risks related to money laundering and financing of terrorism Snapshot Update June 7, 2017 Today the Bank for International Settlements' Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) issued "Guidelines on Sound management of risks related to money laundering and financing of terrorism" (the "Guidelines"). The Guidelines were issued "to describe how banks should include money laundering (ML) and financing of terrorism (FT) risks within their overall risk management." With respect to foreign correspondent banking, the Guidelines' clarifications are designed to respond to the withdrawal of correspondent banking relationships (derisking) that have adversely affected banks and, in some cases, entire regions. Accordingly, Annex 2 of the Guidelines includes a… Read More Continue Reading

Congressional Hearing on Terrorism Financing Probes Bank Secrecy Act Data Effectiveness, Potential BSA Amendments

Congressional Hearing on Terrorism Finance Probes Bank Secrecy Act Data Processing Effectiveness, Lack of Beneficial Ownership Transparency, and Potential BSA and Patriot Act Amendments Business Update |  April 28, 2017 | Author: Hdeel Abdelhady | Download Full Update On April 27, 2017, I attended a Congressional hearing on “Safeguarding the Financial System from Terrorist Financing,” held by the House Committee on Financial Services’ Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance (the “Subcommittee”). The sole witness was Mr. Jamal El-Hindi, Acting Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury charged with protecting the financial system from money laundering, terrorism financing and other illicit activities.… Read More Continue Reading

Senate Bill to Combat ISIS Targets “Jurisdictions of Terrorism Financing Concern”

On February 13, 2017, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced in the Senate the “Stop Terrorist Operational Resources and Money Act” (the “STORM Act”). The purpose of the STORM Act is to “establish a designation for jurisdictions permissive to terrorism financing, to build the capacity of partner nations to investigate, prosecute, and hold accountable terrorist financiers, to impose restrictions on foreign financial institutions that provide financial services for terrorist organizations, and for other purposes.” The STORM Act would permit the President to designate a country as a “Jurisdiction of Terrorism Financing Concern” upon determining that “government officials know, or should know, that activities are taking place within the country that substantially… Read More

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Trump’s Foreign Policy May Further Strain Foreign Correspondent Banking (Derisking)

Download PDF Foreign correspondent banking relationships (FCBRs) have come under strain in recent years as major global and regional banks have de-risked from FCBRs that have posed (or have been perceived to pose) more legal risk and administrative costs than commercial benefits. The de-risking trend and its resulting diminishment of access to legitimate financial services by individual customers, classes of customers, and regions (among others) has raised concern among national governments and multilateral institutions that have, from 2015 most noticeably, conducted studies on de-risking to determine its extent and effects, as well as to identify potential solutions. Regional government and banking associations have sounded alarms about the deleterious effects of de-risking on… Read More Continue Reading

After Election 2016: 5 Legal and Business Issues to Watch in 2017

Download Infographic The dismantling of Obama-era laws and regulations, broader deregulation, and economic and political nationalism were and remain themes of the 2016 U.S. Election and presidential transition period. Donald Trump and members of the incoming Republican-controlled Congress have singled out for repeal or significant modification the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, along with trade, immigration, foreign affairs, and environmental laws, regulations, and policies. If taken, these actions will not only effect legal changes in specific areas, they will create legal and policy voids that may be filled by U.S. states and localities, foreign governments and multilateral and non-governmental organizations,… Read More Continue Reading