Week In Compliance: Bankers believe that their employees do not want overtime pay

American Bankers Association reports that banks believe their overtime exempt employees do not want overtime pay, as stated by Christeena Naser, Vice President and Sr Counsel. This opinion stems from the Department of Labor’s new interpretation of the Primary Duty Test. “The term “primary duty” means the principal, main, major or most important duty that the employee performs. Determination of an employee’s primary duty must be based on all the facts in a particular case, with the major emphasis on the character of the employee’s job as a whole.” (DOL). ABA goes onto to state that the Test’s objective was to identify obvious non-exempt employees, but the new interpretation would seem to try to identify obvious exempt employees. The difference in nearly $27,000, or about 30 Million employees across all industries.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) today announced a settlement with Desert Palace, Inc. d/b/a Caesars Palace where Caesars agreed to pay an $8 million civil money penalty for its willful and repeated violations of the Bank Secrecy Act. In addition, the casino agreed to conduct periodic external audits and independent testing of its anti-money laundering compliance program, report to FinCEN on mandated improvements, adopt a rigorous training regime, and engage in a “look-back” for suspicious transactions. – FinCEN

CFPB reported that it has handled 677,200 complaints nationally. – SubPrime Auto Finance News Staff

Big companies are some of the worst offenders in foreign corruption cases, but they are also increasingly policing themselves and self-reporting instances of bribery, new data show. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development analyzed 427 cases of foreign bribery in 17 countries to determine who’s bribing who, and how authorities are discovering corrupt practices. – Kathleen Caulderwood at International Business Times

FTC can sue companies for inadequate cyber-security protection, so says the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. – Dan Appleman at FCPA Blog

Caesar’s Palace to pay $8 Million penalty on poor compliance regime. FinCEN has also forced the Palace to take on additional action for boosting compliance an a lookback program to seek noncompliance in past transactions. “When it came to watching out for illicit activity, [Caesar’s Palace] allowed a blind spot in its compliance program,” says Jennifer Shasky, director at FinCEN.

“Whistle-blowers and insiders play an increasingly important role in our work,” says David Green, Director of the Serious Fraud Office in the UK. “I suggest… moving away from the identification principle of corporate criminal liability in English law and embracing something closer to vicarious liability, as in the USA,” he said in his speech at the 33rd Cambridge Economic Crime Symposium.

By performing an assessment of OFAC compliance programs and establishing a culture of compliance throughout the organization, a company can position itself to better understand and identify potential risk exposure. – Sven Stumbauer, Director in the Financial Crimes Compliance Practice at AlixPartners, LLP at International Banker

Jobs In Compliance

Opinion: FRB of Boston says Prepaid cards can be a savings tool, and I agree 

credit Danny Choo

Prepaid cards from credit card companies have grown significantly in the past decade. They offer credit transactions to those who do not have the credit history to have credit cards. They offer a way to build credit for those who cannot even open a bank account. These are people and families who make $25,000 or less. If you are reading this, you are very likely a person with a bank account and a credit card. You might not know, but there are people who do not qualify to have a bank account. I was once such a person. But I wasn’t the norm of such a person. I had graduated from college and I didn’t yet have a job. During college, I had a college student checking out. I was moving back home 2,000 miles away from my bank. So, I needed a local bank. Wells Fargo said that I had overdrafted too many times and I do not have a history of income that would otherwise let them overlooking this. I was shocked. I didn’t know that banks refused to open checking accounts. Even more astonishing, this was at a time when checking account were not free. I went down the street to Key Bank, who opened an account for me. I got a job and Key Bank had my business for many years. But most people who do not qualify for checking account aren’t in my position. They have never made enough money to have any savings at all, which means even if they had a checking account, it would sit empty. Even having an account for someone open a bank up to various risks, which all have a cost. But financial institutions have come up with a solution: Prepaid Card. This uses the credit network for transactions but at no time transactions beyond the amount in the card can be made. And banks do not have to offer any services, keeping all of the information on the card. Actually, in Eastern Africa, the same type of decentralized banking system is growing through cellphones. And if you think about it a little longer, Bitcoin and other cyber-currencies are just another decentralized payment system, albeit with more value involved. What Prepaid Cards offer is not merely a way to make transactions. It can be method to store value, as economists would put it. That is, a person can save money in such cards. The difference for the user is minimal for the most part. Sure, it is less secure because if you lose it, you’ve lost all of your money, just like cash. But it is safer than cash since it is possible to have an account on that card, even though it wouldn’t have any of the protections of a checking account. At least, there would be a remote way to stop transactions on that card, if lost, unlike cash. For the financial system, prepaid cards balances cannot be used to lend money. But banks are not starved for money right now. The Federal Reserve is offering money below the inflation rate, which means, banks are being paid to just hold money. The card balance does not flow through the system until it is used for a transaction, but it a clear benefit to the consumer who cannot afford to be connected to the financial system through depository banking. For banks, it allows them to have a credit history on those people should they eventually want to join the financial system. The banks also make money on the credit transaction. And for the system as a whole, it reduces risks involving money laundering, fraud, theft and cyber crimes.

How do you like the new weekly round up?

Marcus Maltempo is a compliance professional with more than a decade of experience helping banks, law firms and clients manage investigations and regulatory responses. He is a member of ACAMS and ACFE. 

FinCEN defines dealers/retailers of precious metals, precious stones, jewels or other money substitutes


Dealers and certain retailers engaging in the purchase and sale of precious metals, precious stones, or jewels are financial institutions under FinCEN regulations. FinCEN defines a dealer as “a person engaged within the United States as a business in the purchase and sale of covered goods and who, during the prior calendar or tax year (i) purchased more than $50,000 in covered goods; and (ii) received more than $50,000 gross proceeds from the sale of covered goods.” 11 FinCEN includes in the definition of “dealer” those persons “… engaged within the United States in the business of sales primarily to the public of covered goods… who during the prior calendar or tax year… purchased more than $50,000 in covered goods from persons other than dealers or other retailers (such as members of the general public or foreign sources of supply.”12 The term “covered goods” includes precious metals as listed in 31 CFR § 1027.100(d). Based on your letter, and subject to the monetary threshold and type of supplier considerations explained above, the purchases and sales the Company entered into on its own account would make the Company a dealer in precious metals, and therefore a financial institution subject to FinCEN regulations.

When acting as either a money transmitter or a dealer in precious metals, precious stones, or jewels, the Company must assess the money laundering risk involved in its non-exempt transactions, and implement an anti-money laundering program to mitigate such risk. In addition, the Company must comply with the recordkeeping, reporting, and transaction monitoring requirements under FinCEN regulations. Examples of such requirements include the filing of reports relating to currency in excess of $10,000 received in a trade or business (31 CFR § 1027.330) whenever applicable, general recordkeeping maintenance (31 CFR § 1027.410), and recordkeeping related to the sale of negotiable instruments (31 CFR § 1010.415). Furthermore, to the extent that any of the Company’s transactions constitute a “transmittal of funds” (31 CFR § 1010.100(ddd)) under FinCEN’s regulations, then the Company must also comply with the “Funds Transfer Rule” (31 CFR § 1010.410(e)) and the “Funds Travel Rule” (31 CFR § 1010.410(f)). Additionally, as a money transmitter, the Company must register with FinCEN within 180 days of starting to engage in convertible virtual currency transactions as an exchanger (31 CFR § 1022.380).

Do you agree with this inclusive definition of dealers/retailers as well as precious metals, precious stones, jewels or other money substitutes?

About the Author: Marcus Maltempo is a compliance professional with more than a decade of experience helping banks, law firms and clients manage investigations and regulatory responses.


Say Hello To My Little Friend…

… I call him FinCEN.

FinCEN, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a division of the US Department of Treasury, issued  a GTO, or Geographic Targeting Order. This is a rarely used order, for the obvious reason that money laundering is usually not concentrated in any one place. But Miami businesses are going to receive closer scrutiny from the sub-Treasury group because of money laundering related to drug trafficking. Effectively, this lowers the currency reporting threshold from $10,000 to $3,000.

'You've not been involved with money laundering before have you Joe!'This is a good time as any to discuss Black Market Peso Exchanges, or BMPE. This is a money laundering scheme often used by Colombian drug cartels to repatriot their US earnings back to Colombia. The exchange serves as the middle man. The exchange imports good into Colombia from the US, the imports being products that the cartel wanted, either to sell to the local market or for themselves. Cartel gives the exchange US funds, which is used to purchase goods for export. Effectively, it looks like the exchange is shipping many small orders from retail customers in Colombia, but actually, it is just laundering money.

About the Author: Marcus Maltempo is a compliance professional with more than a decade of experience helping banks, law firms and clients manage investigations and regulatory responses. He is the author of the forthcoming book History of Money Laundering: How criminals got paid and got away.


PayPal’s $7.7 million fine is a boost to CompliTech

PayPal Logo
PayPal Logo

Last week, PayPal, the eBay owned online payment company, was fined $7.7 Million for 486 OFAC violations. And that was a reduced fine just for 2013. 2014 investigations have not been completed at this time. That comes to nearly $16,000 per violation. Considering the number of transactions PayPal does, 486 is nothing. But then again, if fines were applied to a larger number of transactions, PayPal wouldn’t have a viable business model. And these violations were made with a strong compliance and anti-money laundering department. Imagine the violations without such a department in place.

PayPal and other Financial Technology (FinTech) firms are categorized as Money Service Businesses (MSB’s), not banks, because they do not offer depository services. this categorization does not absolve them from regulations pertaining to transactions and sanctions, like banks. Last week, they found out what it will cost them to stay compliant.

Generally, FinTech firms consider themselves to be the new alternative to banks. So, they don’t work with banks unless forced. So, compliance is not something FinTech spends a lot of time worrying about, resulting in less compliance experience.

Banks, however, despite their effort to reduce the effects of regulations, have been beefing up their compliance departments as well as vendor services. Some of the vendors are in the new sector of Compliance Technology, or CompliTech.

CompliTech has been around a decade or more but its recognition as a sector of its own is brand new. CompliTech is made up of a handful of firms across the US and Europe as well as groups within existing large bank systems providers. Their products are not yet fully tested, still require incredible amounts of human intervention and are expensive. Small financial players like community banks, credit unions and FinTech cannot afford their services.

But these are the very firms that need CompliTech services the most. If an organization is trying to provide inexpensive products and services with convenience without compliance programs afforded by economies of scale afforded at large institutions, they run a greater risk of serving cash-based businesses and immigrant populations with ties to foreign businesses. These providers face all of the threats of global banking without the benefits. To make matters worse, when a few CompliTech firms emerge as the leaders in the industry, big banks, bank systems providers and large consulting firms are more likely to snatch them up, leaving fewer options for FinTech to fend for themselves.

PayPal is an exception to all of this, as it is an exception in FinTech. It has been a round a while, it is large, and, these afford it a sophisticated compliance program. It hires PhD’s to do statistical analyses and ex-military intelligence officers to execute counter-terror financing. What startup can afford such programs?

CompliTech will eventually get around to serving FinTech. But until then, FinTech is far from taking over the transaction space.

About the Author: Marcus Maltempo is a compliance professional with more than a decade of experience helping banks, law firms and clients manage investigations and regulatory responses.

FinCEN sets enhanced due diligence against high risk countries

FinCEN is increasing its effort to fight money laundering and terrorist financing. It is doing it by setting higher risk-based due diligence requirements for financial service institutions. The requirements meet the standards set by FATF.

FinCEN also  provided a list of countries that these requirements will be applied to, though if the risk-based approach results in similarly high risk issues in other countries, financial institutions are required to use these due diligence measures as well. The countries are as follows:

image from Jeroen Snoeks
Sanctioned countries:

  • Iran
  • Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)

subject to FinCEN enhanced due diligence requirements:

  • Algeria
  • Ecuador
  • Myanmar

Improving Global AML/CFT Compliance: on-going process (also, subject to FinCEN enhanced due diligence):

  • Afghanistan
  • Angola
  • Guyana
  • Indonesia
  • Iraq
  • Lao PDR
  • Panama
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Yemen

Jurisdictions not making sufficient progress (also, subject to FinCEN enhanced due diligence):

  • Uganda

Jurisdictions no longer subject to listing and monitoring (FinCEN recommends that financial institutions take the FATF’s decisions and the reasons behind the delisting into consideration when assessing risk):

  • Albania
  • Cambodia
  • Kuwait
  • Namibia
  • Nicaragua
  • Pakistan
  • Zimbabwe

About the Author: Marcus Maltempo is a compliance professional with more than a decade of experience helping banks, law firms and clients manage investigations and regulatory responses.


AML Means Anti-Money Laundering

Money Laundering is the process of making earning from criminal activities into legitimate money. It’s called “laundering” because the money from criminal activities is considered “dirty” money, so, “laundering” it would “clean” it. AML is the activity of preventing and identifying those activities.

The general process of money laundering begins by placing the dirty money into the financial system, layering it under the cover of a legitimate business and then integrating it by acquiring the funds legally. There are various strategies and tactics to successfully laundering money but with the aid of technology and broader reach of the global financial system, it is much more difficult to succeed.

Van Heusen Advert via Erotic Mad Science

Because there are so many ways and so many places criminals try to launder money, there are many organizations involved. FATF was formed to provide guidelines for enforcement of anti-money laundering activities. All of the financial regulators are involved in oversight, review, exam and enforce AML activities. Intelligence and law enforcement organizations are also involved because the criminal activities tend to be mixed with other criminal activities.

About the Author: Marcus Maltempo is a compliance professional with more than a decade of experience helping banks, law firms and clients manage investigations and regulatory responses.

SAR Means Suspicious Activity Report

SAR is a very important regulatory tool, and a financial institution that ignores it ignores it with great peril. The Report is filed with FinCEN, but nearly ever other regulatory body has a link to FinCEN regarding SAR’s. The OCC, the IRS, even the Department of Homeland Security has a link to FinCEN regarding SAR’s. Here’s an example of the form:

FinCEN Form 109

This form is three pages long and this attachment comes with three pages of instructions. The instructions are written so that even a lay-person without a legal or compliance background should be able to fill it out. A small financial institution may not have a dedicated compliance officer, so, it is very important to understand that there is a 30-day deadline from the moment of the suspicious activity.
The consequences could be detrimental to your business. Your business or you specifically could be charged with enabling, abetting or in any other way aiding terrorist or other money laundering activity.

Generally, this is not an issue that should require a legal counsel. FinCEN is out to enforce the law, not to prosecute it. Its goal is to catch bad guys and if you are helping them, they are likely to look at your favorably. However, should you run out of time before you can determine whether you need to file a report or not, or you are made aware of the activity after the deadline, filing the form late is better than not filing at all. Explaining the reasons for delay is acceptable.
Should you find that your business is starting to attract suspicious activities more frequently than desired, connecting with lawyers who specialize in compliance for counsel will be a very important investment in mitigating this particular risk.

Ultimately, it is in the interest of the business to file a SAR with FinCEN rather than not file.

About the Author: Marcus Maltempo is a compliance professional with more than a decade of experience helping banks, law firms and clients manage investigations and regulatory responses.

OFAC Means Office of Foreign Assets Control

OFAC is an office within the Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Office at the US Department of the Treasury.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is a financial intelligence and enforcement organization of the U.S. government charged with planning and execution of economic and trade sanctions in support of U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives. Acting under Presidential national emergency powers, OFAC carries out its activities against problematic foreign states, organizations and individuals alike. – Wikipedia

Randall Park in The Interview via Historias Bastardas Extraordinarias

Historically, OFAC was dealing with sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Cuba, the usual suspects. But nowadays, OFAC also deals with individuals connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin and individual terrorists.

Making a career in this area of regulations involves great amount of interest in both financial crimes investigations and geopolitics. It also involves keeping up with information on what other regulatory bodies are doing, such as FinCEN, FINRA and Department of Homeland Security.

About the Author: Marcus Maltempo is a compliance professional with more than a decade of experience helping banks, law firms and clients manage investigations and regulatory responses.

FATF Means Financial Action Task Force

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 by the Ministers of its Member jurisdictions. The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system. The FATF is therefore a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas. – FATF

FATF is housed at the Organization Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, France. It works with the G-7 world leaders, G-20 finance ministers to make policy and enforcement recommendations regarding anti-money laundering, anti-bribery, anti-corruption, anti-terrorist financing and anti-piracy. It is part thinktank and part NGO.

FATF has a membership status for each country. There are thirty five member nations and the rest are either observing the guidelines and recommendations or not actively doing so. FATF also has a Blacklist, a list of banned nations. The usual suspects are listed: Iran, North Korea, etc.

The Treasury represents the United States at the FATF. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is the primary contact for guidance.

About the Author: Marcus Maltempo is a compliance professional with more than a decade of experience helping banks, law firms and clients manage investigations and regulatory responses.

Managing Regulatory Risk

On Monday, January 26, Associations of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (hereon ACAMS) held its Third Annual AML Risk Management Conference at The Conrad Hotel in downtown New York. Over the course of this week, summaries and takeaways from the key notes and panel discussions will be shared in this blog.

  • John Byrne, Moderator, Former President of Condor Consulting LLC
  • Jamal El-Hindi, Associate Director, Policy Division, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), US Department of the Treasury
  • Sarah Green, Senior Director, AML Compliance, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
  • Denise Reilly, Managing Director, Global Head of BSA/AML Compliance, Citibank
  • James Vivenzio, Senior Counsel for BSA/AML, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)

HeaderThis panel discussion covered topics ranging from expectations from regulators, culture of compliance in a firm, and personal liability. The following are  ten takeaways:

  1. Enterprise-wide consistency helps to mange the professionals and reduce gap risk.
  2. Regulators like to see consistency because it shows the effort an institution is putting into trying to be compliant.
  3. Communicate to Boards of Directors that OCC would like to see more focus on compliance from them
  4. Alert Suppression is okay and critical to executing priorities, but the alerts should be logged and revisited to keep the compliance programs up-to-date with the changing environment both ex-firm and intra-firm.
  5. Personal Liability of compliance officers will increase, so, keep good documentation
  6. FINRA does not target individuals, though individuals will face penalties if found willfully unaware or intentionally non-compliant. FINRA focuses on systemic risks to protect investors.
  7. FinCEN does not target individuals, especially trying to avoid dissuading the most talented compliance professionals from fleeing the most difficult problems.
  8. Intra-firm talent development is key to today’s labor market where supply of veteran compliance officers are small compared to demand.
  9. OCC intends to staff lead experts on all exams in the future.
  10. The new OCC Exam Manual, published November 11, 2014, does not have much substantive changes, mostly it is an administrative update to make sure changes to exams since the last major update are documented.

About the Author: Marcus Maltempo is a compliance professional with more than a decade of experience helping banks, law firms and clients manage investigations and regulatory responses.
He tweets @MoneyCompliance