FinCEN Notice

On September 16, 2021, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued FIN-2021-NTC3 to call attention to a troubling rise in Online Child Sexual Exploitation (OCSE) Crimes.  According to multiple law enforcement authorities, the lockdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to the rise in OCSE due to a number of factors, including:

  • Increased internet usage by children who are spending more time online, both unsupervised and during traditional school hours;
  • Restricted travel during the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in more sex offenders being online; and,
  • Increased access to and use of technology, including encrypted communications, bulk data transfer, cloud storage, live-streaming, and anonymized transactions.

Additionally, there has been a notable rise in “sextortion” of minors, who are coerced/exploited into exchanging sexual images by OCSE offenders who “groom” minors to post such content for money.  FinCEN reviewed OCSE-related Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) and noted that there was an increasing usage of convertible virtual currency (CVC), peer-to-peer mobile applications, the darknet, and anonymization/encryption services to avoid detection.

In order to better identify and track these types of cybercrimes, FinCEN wants to remind financial institutions to provide all pertinent and available information in the SAR narrative and attachments.  They have provided specific filing instructions for OCSE related SARs.  There is also an Appendix included with helpful information as to terminology and definitions related to Child Sexual Exploitation Crimes.

If you are looking for additional training and resources, OCSE Crime and other cybercrimes will be addressed in our Virtual BSA/AML Compliance Conference on November 10, 2021.


Is your suspicious activity monitoring up to speed?

Suspicious activity monitoring and reporting is the cornerstone of the BSA/AML program.  Are you doing everything you should?  There have been a lot of changes in the last 12 months and that could mean you may need to revisit some aspects of your program and make some tweaks and/or adjustments.

Kevin explains more in the video.


BSA Exam Manual Updates on CTRs

You may have noticed FFIEC as been busy updating their Examination Manual.  While these updates don’t necessarily impose any new requirements, they are intended to provide some additional clarity in certain areas.  One such area was with respect Currency Transaction Reports.

Kevin explains more in the video.



The Privacy rules have been around for a little over 20 years now and have become “old hat” for most institutions.  While there really hasn’t been much change to the rules in that time, there was a change several years back with respect to sending annual privacy notices. 

Kevin explains more in the video.


BSA Exam Manual Update

On June 21st, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) once again updated the Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) Examination Manual.  As you may recall, there were also recent updates in February 2021 and April 2020.

The exam manual provides instructions to examiners who are assessing the adequacy of an institution’s BSA/AML compliance program.  Regardless of who your primary regulator is, it is good to be aware of the changes.  This most recent update addressed the following topics:

  • International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instrument Reporting
  • Purchase and Sale of Monetary Instruments Recordkeeping
  • Reports of Foreign Financial Accounts
  • Special Measures

The FFIEC makes it clear that the updates do not reflect any new requirements or an increased focus in these areas. The updates are simply intended to offer clarity and transparency and to support the risk-focused examination process.

Although there aren’t any earth-shattering changes, the updates direct examiners to evaluate and determine whether internal controls appropriately mitigate and manage money laundering, terrorist financing (ML/TF) and other illicit financial activity risks. Here’s a quick rundown of the updates:

International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instrument Reporting

This section clarifies how examiners should assess compliance with the rules regarding the international transportation of currency [see 31 CFR 1010.306(b) and 31 CFR 1010.340].  These rules are triggered when anyone physically transports, mails, or ships currency or other monetary instruments totaling over $10,000 into or out of the United States.  Doing so requires the filing of a Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments (CMIR).  The section outlines when such reports are necessary; who is responsible; and how policies and procedures should be evaluated. This section would be of particular interest to institutions that encounter this type of international bulk shipping activity.

Purchase and Sale of Monetary Instruments Recordkeeping

Most institutions sell a variety of monetary instruments and have clear policies and procedures to monitor such activity and meet recordkeeping requirements. While there is nothing new in the exam manual from a procedural perspective, this update continues the trend of directing examiners to determine whether internal controls are properly designed to mitigate and manage ML/TF and other illicit financial activity risks.

Reports of Foreign Financial Accounts

This section only applies to those institutions required to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) under 31 CFR 1010.306(c).  Institutions with a financial interest in or authority over one or more accounts in a foreign country, with an aggregate maximum value over $10,000 at any point during a year, must file this report.  If these rules apply to your institution, it would be worth looking at the updates to be ready for any review and testing of your process(es).

Special Measures

This section discusses how examiners will assess compliance with special measures under the USA PATRIOT Act. The Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to require certain measures against foreign jurisdictions, foreign financial institutions, classes of international transactions, or types of accounts that are of primary money laundering concern.  While there are a variety of potential actions, these special measures are implemented through regulatory orders from the Treasury.  An updated list is available here.

Examiners are to determine which special measures may apply and evaluate the procedures in place.  Transaction testing may occur to determine whether the necessary information is being collected and reported, and whether the bank has complied with any prohibitions or other required actions.

All exam manual updates will be incorporated into our upcoming BSA/AML Webinars and our Conferences coming up in the fall.