OCC Bulletin 2021-29| June 30, 2021

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

To

Chief Executive Officers of All National Banks, Federal Savings Associations, and Federal Branches and Agencies; Department and Division Heads; All Examining Personnel; and Other Interested Parties

Summary

Pursuant to the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (AML Act),1 the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)—in consultation with other relevant Treasury Department offices, the U.S. Attorney General, federal functional regulators,2 relevant state financial regulators, and relevant national security agencies—today published the first national priorities for anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT priorities).3 As required by the AML Act,4 the priorities are consistent with the National Strategy for Combating Terrorist and Other Illicit Financing.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and National Credit Union Administration (collectively, the agencies) joined with FinCEN in publishing an interagency statement that explains that the publication of the AML/CFT priorities does not immediately create any new obligations for banks5 and clarifies how the priorities will be used.

Note for Community Banks

The AML/CFT priorities and the interagency statement apply to all OCC-supervised banks. FinCEN recognizes that every one of the priorities will not be relevant for every bank.

Highlights

The AML/CFT priorities

  • enumerate eight areas of longstanding AML/CFT concern, previously identified by FinCEN and other U.S. government departments and agencies as threats to the U.S. financial system and national security.
  • are intended to help banks and other financial institutions combat money laundering and counter terrorist financing.
  • cover the following topics:
    • Corruption
    • Cybercrime, including relevant cybersecurity and virtual currency considerations
    • Terrorist financing (i.e., international and domestic terrorism)
    • Fraud
    • Transnational criminal organizations
    • Drug trafficking organization activity
    • Human trafficking and human smuggling
    • Proliferation financing

The interagency statement

  • explains that banks are not required to incorporate the AML/CFT priorities into their risk-based Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) compliance programs until the effective date of final revised regulations to be issued by FinCEN.
  • clarifies that publication of the AML/CFT priorities does not create an immediate change to BSA requirements or supervisory expectations for banks.
  • notes that, although not required by the AML Act, the OCC and other federal banking agencies plan to revise their BSA regulations, as necessary, to address how the AML/CFT priorities must be incorporated into banks’ BSA compliance programs.
  • recognizes that banks should start preparing for new requirements when those final revised regulations are published.
  • confirms that the agencies will not examine banks for the incorporation of the AML/CFT priorities into banks’ BSA compliance programs until the effective date of the final revised regulations.

Background

Pursuant to the AML Act, FinCEN is required to publish the AML/CFT priorities and update them at least once every four years. The AML Act also provides for FinCEN, in consultation with the federal functional regulators and state financial regulators, to promulgate regulations as appropriate to carry out the AML/CFT priorities within 180 days of the publication of the priorities.6

Further Information

Please contact James Vivenzio, Director for BSA/AML Policy, at (202) 649-5470.

 

Grovetta N. Gardineer
Senior Deputy Comptroller for Bank Supervision Policy

Related Links

1 Refer to Pub. L 166-183, Division F, “Anti-Money Laundering,” (AML ACT) sections 6001–6511.

2 AML Act 6003(3) defines “federal functional regulator” to include, among others, the federal banking agencies that examine financial institutions for compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act.

3 Refer to 31 USC 5318(h)(4)(A), as amended by AML Act 6101(b)(2)C).

4 Refer to 31 USC 5318(h)(4)(C), as amended by AML Act 6101(b)(2)(C).

5 “Banks” refers collectively to national banks, federal savings associations, covered savings associations, and federal branches and agencies of foreign banking organizations.

6 Refer to 31 USC 5318(h)(4)(D), as amended by AML Act 6101(b)(2)(C).