Latvian Bank Faces Exclusion as a “Primary Money Laundering Concern” Based on North Korean Ties and Other Misdeeds

ABLV Bank, ASOn February 12, 2018, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”), a division of the Treasury Department charged with enforcing the anti-money laundering provisions Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”), branded ABLV Bank, AS as a “financial institution of primary money laundering concern”  and announced its intention, via a notice of proposed rulemaking, to effectively exclude ABLV Bank from the U.S. financial system by prohibiting U.S. banks from opening or maintaining correspondent accounts in ABLV Bank’s name or on its behalf. The designation of ABLV Bank as a primary money laundering concern takes effect immediately; the imposition of this prohibition against correspondent accounts will take effect when FinCEN issues a final rule after expiration of the administrative comment period on April 13, 2018.… Read More

Thoughts on the Manafort & Gates Indictment: Focused on FBAR Violations

FBAR, Manafort and Gates indictmentOn Monday, October 30, 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller unsealed the indictment against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business associate, Richard Gates. The twelve count indictment (available here) charges Manafort and Gates with multiple offenses relating to the pair’s alleged advocacy on behalf of the Government of Ukraine and Ukrainian political parties and the treatment of funds received in connection with these activities.

In particular, the indictment alleges that Manafort and Gates, acting through foreign nominees, opened numerous offshore bank accounts and deposited some $75 million in proceeds from their Ukraine-related work into these accounts. Manafort allegedly wired a portion of the funds to the United States, where he used them to buy, inter alia, $849,215 worth of men’s clothing from a single store in a little over five years, $655,500 worth of landscaping services for a Hamptons property, and a $2.85 million condominium in Manhattan.… Read More

Interview with Victor Song, Former Chief of IRS Criminal Investigation (CI)

IRS Buidling

I had the opportunity to speak with the former Chief of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (CI), Victor Song, about the future of international tax enforcement.  International enforcement has been a top priority for the IRS for many years, and Mr. Song has had a critical role in that effort.  Mr. Song’s tenure with the IRS spanned 30 years. He joined in 1981 and became a special agent in 1983. He rose to the position of deputy chief of CI in 2007, was appointed CI chief in January 2010, and retired from CI in December 2011. Mr. Song then served as the Executive Vice President of Compliance and Advisor to the CEO for Samsung Electronics America; he currently runs Victor Song Consulting, concentrating on services for tax controversy, anti-money laundering, corporate compliance and internal investigations.… Read More

Federal Reserve’s AML/BSA Compliance Crackdown Continues

AML BSA ComplianceThis week the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco announced that East West Bank, based in Pasadena, California and with subsidiaries in China and Hong Kong, has entered into an agreement to strengthen its anti-money laundering (AML) and Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) compliance. The agreement covers many of the same areas as the New York Fed’s recent agreement with The Bank of Nova Scotia, which we discussed in a November 12 post, and calls for revamped compliance programs for key areas, including BSA/AML, Customer Due Diligence, and Suspicious Activity Monitoring and Reporting.

Of interest are two obligations the agreement imposes in connection with the Bank’s required Suspicious Activity Monitoring and Reporting.… Read More

NY DFS Cracks Down on Banks’ Anti-Money Laundering Deficiencies

Earlier this year, New York’s Department of Financial Services (“DFS”), the State’s banking and insurance regulator, announced that it was increasing and strengthening its enforcement efforts aimed at financial institutions’ anti-money laundering (“AML”) and Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) compliance deficiencies. The latest installment in the DFS’s crackdown on financial institutions came on November 5th, when the DFS and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (the “New York Fed”) entered into an agreement with The Bank of Nova Scotia and its New York agency (collectively, the “Bank”), obligating the Bank to submit revised compliance programs for several key areas, including BSA/AML, Customer Due Diligence, and Suspicious Activity Monitoring and Reporting.… Read More

Digital Currency: A Global System, Yet Subject to U.S. Law and Regulation

Digital CurrencyThe use of digital currency and its underlying technology may be gaining traction in the traditional economy, but the industry remains a focus of law enforcement interest. The IRS, recognizing the opportunity for digital currency to be used as a possible vehicle for tax evasion,  declared in March 2014 that digital currency is to be taxed as “property,” rather than as “currency.” Given the close relationship between the IRS and enforcement of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), the legal fields of tax controversy and tax compliance are necessarily affected by the evolving enforcement regime regarding the use – or misuse – of digital currency.… Read More