June 30, 2021

FinCEN Issues AML/CFT National Priorities List

FinCEN issued the first government-wide list of priorities concerning anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing ("AML/CFT") policy. FinCEN identified these priorities in consultation with OFAC, relevant state and federal regulators, law enforcement, and national security agencies. FinCEN stated that the creation of these priorities is intended to aid covered institutions in meeting their AML/CFT obligations.

FinCEN outlined the following AML/CFT policy priorities, which - the agency stated - are organized "in no particular order": (i) corruption, (ii) cybercrime, including relevant considerations of cybersecurity and virtual currency, (iii) foreign and domestic terrorist financing, (iv) fraud, (v) transnational criminal organization activity, (vi) drug trafficking organization activity, (vii) human trafficking and smuggling, and (viii) proliferation financing.

FinCEN also stated that it will issue rules, within 180 days of the publication of the priorities as required by the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, that explain how financial institutions should include these priorities in their risk-based AML programs.

In an interagency statement, the Federal Reserve Board, the FDIC, FinCEN, the National Credit Union Administration, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and state bank and credit union regulators (collectively, the "agencies") provided banks with additional clarity as to the effect of the AML/CFT priorities.

The agencies confirmed that:

  • the newly published AML/CFT priorities do not immediately modify banks' Bank Secrecy Act ("BSA") obligations or supervisory expectations;

  • they intend to update their BSA regulations, as appropriate, in the future to address the incorporation of the AML/CFT priorities in banks' BSA requirements; and

  • their examiners will not assess banks' incorporation of the AML/CFT priorities into their risk-based BSA programs prior to the effective date of the final updated BSA regulations.

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