FinCEN and OCC Impose Fines Against Federal Savings Association for Violations of Bank Secrecy Act

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On March 17, 2022, following an investigation, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an order imposing a civil money penalty of $140 million against a federal savings association (the Bank), for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). Following a concurrent investigation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) also issued its own civil money penalty based on many of the same facts and circumstances.

During the OCC’s investigation, the OCC informed the Bank of problems with its anti-money laundering (AML) program.  As a result, the Bank agreed to implement certain improvements to its AML program, including, among others, improvements to its internal controls; testing; and written policies for timely review and action on suspicious activity alerts.  However, in connection with FinCEN’s investigation, the Bank admitted that it willfully failed to implement and maintain an AML program that met the minimum requirements of the BSA from at least January 2016, through April 2021.  The Bank also admitted that it failed to accurately and timely report thousands of suspicious transactions to FinCEN, including potential customer personal account use for criminal activity.  In addition, the OCC asserted that the Bank failed to correct the problems with its AML program identified by the OCC.

The OCC assessed the Bank with a civil penalty of $60 million.  FinCEN agreed to credit the $60 million civil penalty imposed by the OCC due the substantial factual overlap between the basis for the OCC’s civil money penalty and FinCEN’s.  In total, the Bank will pay $140 million to the U.S. Treasury, with $80 million representing FinCEN’s penalty and $60 million representing the OCC’s penalty.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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