FinCEN announces national priorities

Last week, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued their very first national priorities for Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) policy, as required in the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) of 2020. FinCEN published the priorities on June 30th, 2021 – the exact deadline set in the legislation.

We’ll review the priorities below. But first, let’s discuss what this means for credit unions. The AMLA required FinCEN to establish the national priorities, and also noted that credit unions (which are considered “banks” under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and its implementing regulations) will be required to incorporate the priorities into their risk-based AML compliance programs. Additionally, the AMLA also stated that regulatory examiners will review whether credit unions adequately incorporated the priorities into their programs as part of BSA examinations. However, the financial regulators have issued an interagency statement that clarifies that credit unions and other financial institutions will not be expected to immediately incorporate the priorities into their programs, and the priorities will not be part of BSA examinations until a later date. Instead, the agencies announced that they plan to issue revisions to their BSA regulations before the end of 2021 (i.e. within 180 days of June 30th). Once those revised regulations have been issued, their effective date will become the date on which credit unions will be required to incorporate the priorities into their AML programs and BSA exams will start to look at credit unions’ incorporation of the priorities. This means credit unions have some time before they’ll actually be required to take any action, but the interagency statement suggests credit unions should start considering how they might incorporate these priorities into their programs.

FinCEN has announced the following priorities (which are in no particular order):


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