The following posts provide a snapshot of the principal U.S., European and global financial regulatory developments of interest to banks, investment firms, broker-dealers, market infrastructures, asset managers and corporates.
Financial Action Task Force Seeks Input on Draft Risk-Based Approach Guidance for the Securities Sector
The Financial Action Task Force has published for consultation draft Risk-Based Approach Guidance for the securities sector. The FATF is developing the Guidance to assist countries, regulators, Financial Intelligence Units and participants in the securities sector to adopt a risk-based approach to anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism. The draft Guidance aims to assist in the risk-based design and implementation of applicable AML/CFT measures by providing general guidelines and examples of current practices and facilitate the effective implementation and supervision of national AML/CFT measures by focusing on risks and on mitigation measures. The FATF is also hoping that the draft Guidance will aid the development of a common understanding of what the risk-based approach to AML/CFT entails in the context of the securities sector. The Guidance will not be binding once it is finalized. The draft Guidance should be read in conjunction with the International Standards on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation and the 2009 Report on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing.
UK Prudential Regulator Sets out Expectations on Firms' Exposures to Crypto-Assets
The U.K. Prudential Regulation Authority has published a "Dear CEO" letter, addressed to the Chief Executive Officers of banks, insurance companies and designated investment firms. The purpose of the letter is to remind firms of their relevant obligations under the PRA rules and to communicate the PRA's expectations regarding firms' exposures to crypto-assets.
Crypto-assets have exhibited high price volatility and relative illiquidity and may also be vulnerable to fraud and manipulation, which raises concerns about potential misconduct and poses issues for market integrity. The PRA's letter does not define crypto-assets, but the Financial Conduct Authority uses this term to refer to any publicly available electronic medium of exchange that features a distributed ledger and a decentralized system for exchange. The FCA recently published a "Dear CEO" letter outlining best practice for firms in handling the financial crime risks that crypto-assets can pose.
EU's Fifth Money Laundering Directive to Enter into Force July 2018
The Fifth Money Laundering Directive has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union and will enter into force on July 9, 2018. Member States must transpose the directive into their national laws within 18 months of that date. 5MLD makes a number of changes to the European Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing regime set out in the Fourth Money Laundering Directive.
The key changes introduced by 5MLD are:
1. Extending the scope of "obliged entities" to include providers of exchange services between virtual and fiat currencies as well as custodian wallet providers. These entities will need to register in their home Member State.
2. Harmonizing the application of enhanced customer due diligence for third countries that are determined by the European Commission to be high risk countries. Member States will be able to apply additional measures, where appropriate.
UK Financial Conduct Authority Sets out Good Practice for Handling Financial Crime Risks from Crypto-Assets
The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has published a "Dear CEO" letter to U.K. authorized banks, setting out its views on best practice that banks should adopt for handling the financial crime risks that may be posed by so-called crypto-assets. The FCA uses this term to refer to any publicly available electronic medium of exchange that features a distributed ledger and a decentralized system for exchange. Crypto-assets include crypto-currencies, a well-known example of which is Bitcoin. The FCA acknowledges that crypto-assets can be used without any criminal motives. However, the fact that crypto-assets can be held relatively anonymously and can be readily transferred between countries can make them attractive for criminal purposes. Banks should adopt proportionate measures to mitigate the risk that they are used to facilitate financial crimes involving crypto-assets.
EU Agrees Countering Money Laundering by Criminal Law Directive
The Council of the European Union and the European Parliament have announced their agreement on new EU criminal sanctions for money laundering. The proposed Countering Money Laundering by Criminal Law Directive will complement the Fifth Money Laundering Directive, which was adopted in May 2018.
The new Directive establishes minimum rules on the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the area of money laundering. Member states will be required to implement national laws providing for money laundering offences by individuals to be punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least four years. National laws will continue to provide for additional measures, such as fines, temporary or permanent exclusion from public tender procedures, grants and concessions, and national laws will also provide for national courts to take into account any aggravating factors for sentencing.
European Commission Proposes Legislation to Promote SME Growth Markets
The European Commission has published a proposal for a Regulation to amend the Market Abuse Regulation and the new Prospectus Regulation. The aim of the proposed Regulation is to promote the use of SME Growth Markets by making technical adjustments to the MAR and the new PR to make the regulatory framework applying to listed Small and Medium-sized Enterprises more proportionate and to foster the liquidity of equity instruments listed on SME Growth Markets, while maintaining a high level of investor protection and market integrity. The proposed Regulation is in line with the objectives of the EU Capital Markets Union of reducing the overreliance on bank funding and diversifying market-based sources of financing for European companies.
SME Growth Markets are a new sub-category of multilateral trading facility introduced by the revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive in January 2018. Companies listed on an SME Growth Market are required to comply with MAR and the PR and are impacted by some aspects of MiFID II. The adjustments in the proposal for a Regulation are designed to lower the administrative burden and costs for issuers on SME Growth Markets stemming from compliance with MAR and the PR and to address regulatory shortcomings in MAR that can affect the liquidity of SME financial instruments. The European Commission has also published a separate proposal for a regulation amending delegated legislation under MiFID II to address regulatory barriers to the take-up of the SME Growth Markets.
UK Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 Receives Royal Assent
The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 has received Royal Assent and came partly into force on May 23, 2018. The majority of the provisions of the Act will enter into force on a day appointed by the Secretary of State. The Act will provide a domestic sanctions framework after the U.K. leaves the EU, enabling the U.K. to continue to meet its international obligations and use sanctions as a national security and foreign policy tool.
The Act's provisions empower the U.K. Government to make sanctions regulations to be imposed, where appropriate, to comply with United Nations obligations or other international obligations, to further the prevention of terrorism, for the purposes of national security or international peace and security, or to further foreign policy objectives. The Act also empowers the U.K. Government to create, amend and update regulations for the detection, investigation and prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing and for the purposes of implementing standards published by the Financial Action Task Force relating to combating threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
View the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018.
New Memorandum of Understanding Signed Between UK Financial Conduct Authority and Insolvency Service
The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority and the Insolvency Service have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a framework for their cooperation in matters of common interest.
Both the FCA and the IS have statutory powers of investigation and enforcement under their respective enabling legislation. Both organizations are also legally obliged, from May 25, 2018, to handle personal information according to the requirements of the EU General Data Protection Regulation.
The areas of cooperation include misconduct, investigations and enforcement within their respective remits.
The MoU outlines the structure and process for the FCA and IS to be able to exchange information (including personal data) and intelligence, in a lawful and proportionate manner, to further their respective objectives. The MoU includes details of the circumstances in which the FCA will be permitted to disclose confidential information (such disclosure generally being prohibited under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000) and outlines how each of the two organizations will treat information that is subject to legal professional privilege, including the circumstances in which privilege might be waived. The FCA and IS have agreed to apply a number of principles for the exchange and use of information, including the sharing of intelligence, the use of information for investigations and enforcement or other action, how data security controls will be applied and how data breaches will be handled.
The FCA and IS will monitor the effectiveness of the MoU and review it from time to time as necessary. The MoU has been published on the website of each organization.
View the MoU.
Updated Guidance on Monetary Penalties for Financial Sanctions Breaches Published by UK Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation
The Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation has published an updated version of its guidance on monetary penalties for breaches of financial sanctions. The guidance was first published in April 2017. The update sets out more detail on OFSI's expectations around voluntary disclosure of breaches of financial sanctions. The chapter on the right of individuals to appeal to the Upper Tribunal has also been updated.
View the updated guidance.
UK Joint Money Laundering Steering Group Publishes Revised AML/CTF Guidance For Asset Finance and Syndicated Lending
The U.K. Joint Money Laundering Steering Group has finalized minor changes to Part II of its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing guidance in relation to two sectors, namely asset finance and syndicated lending.
The JMLSG consulted on the proposed changes in a consultation that closed on March 30, 2018. The revisions do not make substantive changes to the existing guidance. Instead, the revised guidance provides clarification on the workings of these two sectors, how to identify customers and how risks should be assessed.
View the JMLSG announcement.
View details of the JMLSG consultation.
FinCEN Provides Temporary Exception Under the Beneficial Ownership Rule for CDs and Loan Accounts that Automatically Rollover or Renew
The U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network announced that it was granting a 90-day exception from compliance with the beneficial ownership requirements under its Customer Due Diligence Requirements for Financial Institutions rule.
EU Fifth Money Laundering Directive Adopted
The Council of the European Union has adopted the EU's Fifth Money Laundering Directive, following the agreement reached between the European Parliament and the Council in December 2017. 5MLD will amend the existing EU Money Laundering Directive.
FFIEC Publishes Customer Due Diligence and Beneficial Ownership Overviews and Examination Procedures
The U.S. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation published the customer due diligence and beneficial ownership examination sections of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council BSA/AML Examination Manual.
Final Global Strategy to Address Wholesale Payments Fraud
Following a consultation late last year, the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructure has published the final strategy for reducing the risk of wholesale payments fraud related to endpoint security. The strategy is directed to all relevant public and private sector stakeholders in reducing the risk of wholesale payments fraud, including the operators of wholesale payments systems and messaging networks, their participants and relevant regulators and authorities responsible for supervising these operators and participants.
The strategy comprises seven elements that are intended to work holistically for preventing, detecting, responding to and communicating about wholesale payments fraud. The elements are:
1. Identifying and understanding the range of risks;
2. Establishing endpoint security requirements;
3. Promoting adherence;
4. Providing and using information and tools to improve prevention and detection;
5. Responding in a timely way to potential fraud;
6. Supporting ongoing education, awareness and information-sharing; and
7. Learning, evolving and coordinating.
The CPMI and each of its member central banks have committed to promoting the effective operationalization of the strategy within and across jurisdictions and systems. They will be monitoring progress in 2018 and 2019 with a view to assessing whether further action is needed.
View the strategy.
European Commission Adopts Delegated Legislation on Central Contact Points for AML/CTF Purposes
The European Commission has adopted a draft delegated regulation under the Fourth Money Laundering Directive. The draft regulation sets out Regulatory Technical Standards on the criteria that EU Member States should use when deciding whether or not payment service providers or electronic money institutions that are headquartered in another EEA Member State and that operate establishments (other than a branch) in their territory should appoint a central contact point for compliance with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing obligations. The draft regulation also sets out RTS on the functions that may be entrusted to such a central contact point.
The draft regulation will now be subject to a three-month scrutiny period by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. Following this period, should neither of the co-legislators object, the draft regulation will then be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and enter into force twenty days later. Once in force, the delegated regulation will have direct effect across the EU.
View the draft delegated regulation.
FINRA Updates AML Rules to Conform to Upcoming Customer Due Diligence Requirements
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority published amendments to FINRA Rule 3310, the anti-money laundering compliance program rule. The FINRA amendments seek to harmonize Rule 3310 with the Customer Due Diligence Requirements for Financial Institutions rule issued by the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network on May 11, 2016. Amended Rule 3310 requires firms to conduct ongoing customer due diligence, establish procedures to understand the nature and purpose of customer relationships for the purpose of developing a customer risk profile, conduct ongoing monitoring to identify and report suspicious transactions and, on a risk basis, maintain and update customer information, including information regarding the beneficial ownership of legal entity customers. Amended Rule 3310 becomes effective on May 11, 2018, which coincides with the compliance date for FinCEN’s CDD Rule.
View full text of Regulatory Notice 18-19.
Financial Action Task Force Publishes Outcomes of its 2018 Private Sector Consultative Forum
The Financial Action Task Force held its annual private sector consultative forum in Vienna on April 23 – 24, 2018. The annual forum provides a platform for the FATF to learn more about the private sector's views and concerns on issues related to anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism. Attendees at the forum included representatives from the financial sector and other businesses and professions subject to AML/CTF obligations.
UK Regulator Warns CEOs of Listed Companies About Their Obligations on Irredeemable Preference Shares
The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has published a "Dear CEO" letter to the Chief Executive Officers of U.K. listed companies on capital instruments expressed to be perpetual, irredeemable or in some other way that suggests permanence. The FCA wishes to ensure that investors have access to all the information necessary for them to be able to assess properly the risks and rewards attaching to such shares. The letter lists the information that listed companies may wish to make readily accessible to all holders and potential holders of such shares, including:
- the terms and conditions of the instrument as included in the original prospectus or similar document issued at the time of the offer or admission of the shares, and details of any changes made after the issue of the shares;
- the articles of association of the issuer, particularly the articles relevant to the shares concerned; and
- a Q&A or similar publication.
European Commission Proposes Legislation Broadening Access to Centralized Financial Information
The European Commission has published a proposal for a directive aimed at increasing security within EU member states and across the EU by improving access to financial information, including bank account information, to the relevant authorities and bodies in charge for the prevention, investigation and prosecution of serious forms of crimes. It is envisaged that this will enhance their ability to conduct financial investigations and analysis and improve their cooperation. In addition, the proposal contains measures to improve the ability of Financial Intelligence Units to carry out their tasks under the 4th Money Laundering Directive.
Currently, most EU national authorities competent for the prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of criminal offences do not have direct access to information on the identity of bank account holders held in centralized account registries or data retrieval systems. Indeed, such registries and systems are currently only operational in 15 EU member states and the relevant authorities only have direct access in 6 of those member states. This lack of, or lack of access to, centralized information means the relevant authorities must send blanket information requests to all financial institutions. Delays in replies to these blanket requests can significantly hamper criminal investigations.
US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network Releases Customer Due Diligence FAQs
The U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network released answers to 37 frequently asked questions regarding its final rule on Customer Due Diligence Requirements for Financial Institutions, which was published in the Federal Register on May 11, 2016 and amended on September 29, 2017. This is the second series of FAQs FinCEN has released. The FAQs cover various topics in connection with the requirement that financial institutions obtain beneficial ownership information for legal entity customers, including the beneficial ownership threshold and its interaction with other AML program obligations, collection and verification of identifying information, particularly for legal entity customers with complex ownership structures and the definition of “legal entity customer,” including the treatment of foreign financial institutions. The FAQs also provide guidance regarding the beneficial ownership certification requirement, including when a single customer opens multiple accounts and in respect of product or service renewals, obligations to update beneficial ownership information and requirements to understand the nature and purpose of the customer relationship.
View FinCEN FAQs.
UK Regulator Proposes Guidance on Obligations to Counter Insider Dealing and Market Manipulation
The Financial Conduct Authority has launched a consultation on adding a proposed chapter on insider dealing and market manipulation to its Financial Crime Guide. The Financial Crime Guide is not part of the FCA's rules but it is a guide to assist firms in implementing the regulator's rules. A firm that does not comply with the Guide is not necessarily deemed by the FCA to be in breach of the rules. However, the FCA expects firms to use the guide to inform their financial crime systems and controls.
The FCA is proposing to add a new chapter on insider dealing and market manipulation to the Financial Crime Guide. The EU Market Abuse Regulation, which applies directly across the EU, requires firms arranging or executing transactions to establish and maintain effective arrangements, systems and controls to detect and report suspicious transactions. The FCA emphasizes that the U.K. rules extend these obligations under MAR and require firms to also counter the risk of financial crime. The FCA explains that this 'countering' obligation extends to insider dealing and market manipulation.
The consultation paper also covers other minor amendments proposed by the FCA, including updating the Guide to reflect the introduction of the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 and removing outdated references on Sanctions.
Responses to the consultation are due by June 28, 2018. The FCA intends the final revised Guide to come into effect on October 1, 2018
View the consultation paper.
View the existing Financial Crime Guide.
Financial Action Task Force Launches Survey on Correspondent Banking Guidance
The Financial Action Task Force has launched an online private sector survey on correspondent banking and the usefulness of its 2016 Guidance on correspondent banking services. The Guidance was published in response to increased concerns about so-called "de-risking," whereby financial institutions avoid, rather than manage, the risks associated with money laundering or terrorist financing by terminating business relations with entire regions or classes of customers. The FATF considers that de-risking is inconsistent with FATF Recommendations, that it has negatively impacted correspondent banking and that it may result in financial transactions being directed into less regulated areas, which would reduce transparency and increase exposure to money laundering and terrorist financing risks.
The FATF wants to assess whether its Guidance is helping to address the de-risking issues. The survey is intended to track their understanding of adoption and usefulness of the guidance.
The survey is open until April 16, 2018.
View the survey.
View the 2016 Guidance on correspondent banking.
Wolfsberg Group Issues Frequently Asked Questions on Country Risk
The Wolfsberg Group has published a set of Frequently Asked Questions on financial crime country risk. Country risk is the additional risk created by investing in, or lending cross border to, a foreign country in the context of credit facilities.
The FAQs cover: (i) the meaning of country risk in the context of financial crime compliance; (ii) the data sources that should be considered when developing a methodology to assess country risk; (iii) the frequency with which data sources should be refreshed; (iv) how sanctions should be considered in country risk methodologies; (v) the models or methodologies available to financial institutions to measure country risk, and how (and how frequently) financial institutions should test and validate their effectiveness; (vi) matters to be considered when purchasing and using an off-the-shelf commercial product to determine financial crime country risk ratings; (vii) whether there is standard or conventional methodology to assess country risk; (viii) how missing data points should be dealt with; (ix) whether overrides or discretionary risk rating changes should be allowed; (x) who should maintain ownership of the organization's FCCR Methodology; (xi) who uses the assessment results and how are the ratings disseminated; (xii) how the FCCR rating methodology should drive customer due diligence and enhanced due diligence requirements; and (xiii) whether a financial institution should have a country risk assessment expressed as a country risk rating.
G20 Communiqué Calls for Recommendations for Regulation of Crypto-Assets
The G20 has published a Communiqué following the meeting of Finance Ministers & Central Bank Governors in Buenos Aires on March 19 – 20, 2018.
Among other things, the Communiqué states that the G20 welcomes the finalization of Basel III and remains committed to full, timely and consistent implementation and finalization of the reforms. The G20 looks forward to the outcome of the evaluation of the reforms to identify and address any unintended consequences, which is being led by the Financial Stability Board.
The G20 also commits to continue to address the decline in correspondent banking relationships. It welcomes the FSB's March 2018 progress report on correspondent banking and calls on the FSB to monitor, with the FATF, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank Group and the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion, the adoption of the recommendations in the FSB's March 2018 report "Stocktake of Remittance Service Providers' Access to Banking Services."
Financial Action Task Force Report to G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors
The Financial Action Task Force has published its report to G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, in advance of their meeting in Buenos Aires scheduled for March 19 – 20, 2018. In the report, the FATF reiterates its commitment to tackle all sources, techniques and channels used in terrorist financing and to continue its work to increase financial transparency and improve the environment for remittances.
The report gives an overview of the FATF's recent work by providing stock-takes on the following workstreams:
- strengthening the FATF's institutional basis, governance and capacity;
- countering the financing of terrorism and proliferation;
- improving transparency and the availability of beneficial ownership information;
- supporting financial inclusion and access to regulated financial services;
- bank de-risking and the impact on remittances;
- FATF engagement with judges and prosecutors to improve the effectiveness of the criminal justice system; and
- the risks and opportunities of FinTech, RegTech and virtual currencies.
Financial Stability Board Action Plan on Access to Banking Services by Remittance Providers
The Financial Stability Board has published two reports relating to its actions to address the decline in correspondent banking. The first report is a progress report addressed to the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors on the FSB's four-point action plan to assess and address the decline in correspondent banking relationships. It sets out the actions taken since the FSB's July 2017 progress report and describes the work that remains to be completed at international level and implemented at national level by regulators and banks. That work includes:
- Implementing the recommendations and action plan on access to banking services by remittance providers (set out in the second report, which is described below);
- National implementation of the new Financial Action Task Force and revised Basel Committee guidance on correspondent banking, which the FSB thinks can mostly be achieved by national regulators issuing statements to clarify their expectations so that they are reflected in supervisory practices as well as banks' risk management practices;
- Improving efficiencies in and enhancing standardization of Know Your Customer utilities, including encouraging the use of the Wolfsberg Correspondent Banking Due Diligence Questionnaire; and
- Progressing the enhancement and further development of solutions to capture the trade finance components of correspondent banking.
UK Joint Money Laundering Steering Group Consults on Revised AML/CTF Guidance for Asset Finance and Syndicated Lending
The U.K. Joint Money Laundering Steering Group has launched a short consultation on minor changes to Part II of its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing guidance in relation to two sectors, namely asset finance and syndicated lending.
In the press release announcing the draft revised guidance, the JMLSG clarifies that the revisions do not make substantive changes to the existing guidance. Instead, the proposals provide clarification on the workings of these two sectors, how to identify customers and how risks should be assessed.
The JMLSG invites comments on the proposed revisions by March 30, 2018.
View the consultation.
Financial Stability Board Releases Updated Data Report on Correspondent Banking
The Financial Stability Board has published an update to its correspondent banking data report. The latest data report updates the data report the FSB published in July 2017 alongside a report for the G20 on progress made on the four point action plan the FSB launched in November 2015 to address the decline in correspondent banking relationships. The latest data report updates the July 2017 data report with additional information provided by SWIFT incorporating the period from January to June 2017.
This new data reveals the average number of active corridors per country (that is, direct relationships between countries, measured by the flow of SWIFT messages) increased in the first half of 2017 in Oceania, Eastern Europe, and Northern America but declined in the rest of the Americas and of Europe, as well as Africa and Asia. There was continued reduction in the total number of active correspondents (as measured by the number of banks that have sent or received messages corridor by corridor in a given month). This decline in active correspondents has not resulted in a lower number of payment messages (volume) or a lower underlying value of the messages processed through SWIFT, leading the FSB to conclude that the higher volume of messages could in part reflect a lengthening of payment chains, as previously discussed in its July 2017 report. Concentration levels of correspondent banking remain high.Read more.
Wolfsberg Group Updates Correspondent Banking Due Diligence Questionnaire
The Wolfsberg Group has published an updated version of its Correspondent Banking Due Diligence Questionnaire (dated February 22, 2018). The CBDDQ has been enhanced and expanded in line with regulatory expectations on strengthening and building due diligence tools. The Group has also published guidance on completing the CBDDQ, frequently asked questions and a glossary. The CBDDQ is intended to provide a standardized document for use by those needing to conduct due diligence on correspondent banks. Over time, it is hoped that use and availability of the CBDDQ may, among other things, help prevent unnecessary de-risking.
The Wolfsberg Group was established in 2002 and comprises thirteen banks. Its objective is to develop frameworks and guidance for the management of financial crime risks. The CBDDQ is intended to support the work on de-risking in correspondent banking by the Financial Stability Board, the Financial Action Task Force and the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures.
UK Joint Money Laundering Steering Group Obtains Ministerial Approval for Updated Guidance
The U.K.’s Joint Money Laundering Steering Group has confirmed that it has received approval from HM Treasury for the final revised guidance it published in December 2017 on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing for the financial services sector. The revisions to the guidance align it with the provisions of the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017, which is the UK implementing legislation for the Fourth EU Money Laundering Directive (4MLD) and the revised Wire Transfer Regulation (WTR) which came into effect on June 26, 2017. 4MLD seeks to give effect to the updated Financial Action Task Force (FATF) global standards which promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system. WTR sets out the minimum requirements that are essential to ensure the traceability of transfers of funds.
Final EU Standards on Cooperation among National Regulators under the Market Abuse Regulation
A Commission Implementing Regulation providing Implementing Technical Standards on the procedures and forms for exchange of information and assistance between national regulators under the Market Abuse Regulation has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. MAR, which entered into force on July 3, 2016, requires national regulators to cooperate with each other in investigations and on supervision and enforcement matters by exchanging information, taking statements from individuals, conducting on-site inspections or investigations and in the recovery of monetary sanctions. The new ITS describe the procedures to be followed by national regulators when making, acknowledging, processing and replying to requests for assistance and when unsolicited assistance is provided and contain standard forms for national regulators to use when doing so.
The ITS enters into force on February 28, 2018 and apply directly across the EU.
View the Commission Implementing Regulation.
Final Draft EU Standards on Cooperation of National Regulators and the European Securities and Markets Authority with other EU Authorities under Market Abuse Regulation
The European Securities and Markets Authority has published a final report and final draft Implementing Technical Standards on forms and procedures for cooperation of National Regulators and ESMA with other EU Authorities under the Market Abuse Regulation. MAR, which entered into force on July 3, 2016, requires national regulators and ESMA to cooperate and exchange information with certain EU authorities in investigations and on supervision and enforcement matters by exchanging information, taking statements from individuals and conducting on-site inspections or investigations. The other authorities are the European Commission, the Agency for Cooperation of Energy Regulators, national regulatory authorities responsible for related spot markets and, in relation to emission allowances, the auction monitor and relevant auction national regulators. The final draft ITS describe the procedures to be followed for making, acknowledging, processing and replying to requests for assistance and when unsolicited assistance is provided and contain standard forms to be used when doing so. The European Commission has three months to consider whether to adopt the ITS.
View the final report and draft ITS.
UK Government Publishes Guidance for Financial Institutions on Sharing of Information on Suspected Money Laundering or Terrorist Financing
The U.K. Home Office has published guidance on sharing of information within the regulated sector under the Criminal Finances Act 2017. The CFA 2017 amends the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Terrorism Act 2000 to allow banks and other financial institutions to voluntarily share information with each other about a suspicion that a person is engaged in money laundering or a terrorist financing offense. The National Crime Agency is also permitted to request banks and financial institutions to voluntarily share information. The new information sharing provisions cover the entire regulated sector. However, implementation is being phased in, starting with banks and financial institutions.
The guidance confirms that sharing of information is voluntary and does not change the mandatory obligation to file a Suspicious Activity Report if appropriate. It also confirms that in sharing information, firms must ensure that they comply with data protection requirements, including under the incoming General Data Protection Regulation. In addition, the guidance confirms that where information is shared in good faith under the relevant CFA 2017 provisions, the POCA 2002 tipping off offense does not apply.
The guidance sets out the roles and responsibilities of firms involved in information sharing, the processes and procedures for submitting notifications and disclosures to the NCA and the interaction of the new provisions with the existing money laundering provisions.
View the guidance.
European Commission Hints at Future Changes to the Second Electronic Money Directive
The European Commission has published a report to the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union on the implementation and impact of the second Electronic Money Directive, known as 2EMD. 2EMD establishes a legal framework for the issuance and redemption of e-money and covers the rights and obligations linked to the redemption of funds by consumers, the licensing of e-money institutions and the prudential requirements applicable to e-money institutions, which updates the regime under the first Electronic Money Directive to align it with requirements on payment institutions under the revised Payment Services Directive. It applies to e-money service providers in the EEA. The regime has been sparsely used in practice, with few firms operating under its auspices.
2EMD requires the Commission to assess its implementation and impact and to propose legislative changes, if appropriate. The report was due on November 1, 2012, however, the Commission delayed its publication because a majority of member states had failed to transpose 2EMD into their national laws by the transposition date of April 2011. The Commission also wanted to take into account the impact of PSD2, which includes numerous cross-references to 2EMD.
European Supervisory Authorities Deliver Opinion on Benefits, Risks and Challenges of Innovative Customer Due Diligence Solutions
The Joint Committee of European Supervisory Authorities has published an Opinion addressed to EU national regulators to develop a common understanding of the appropriate use, by credit and financial institutions, of innovative methods to meet Customer Due Diligence obligations.
All firms that are subject to the Fourth Money Laundering Directive must put in place effective policies and procedures, including effective CDD procedures, to address the risk that their businesses may be used for money laundering or for terrorist financing purposes. 4MLD is "technology neutral" and does not set out specific steps or procedures that must be followed for CDD. There is scope, therefore, for new ways to verify customers' identity, for example non-face-to-face verification using traditional identity documents (such as passports) through portable devices or verification via centralized databases. Innovative means such as artificial intelligence are also increasingly used for monitoring customer relationships, for risk assessment and in decision-making processes.
The ESAs recognize that innovative solutions can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of AML/CFT controls and firms often use innovative solutions to meet demand for improved customer experience and costs savings. The ESAs believe that firms should not be prevented from using such solutions, provided that proper safeguards have been put in place to mitigate the ML/TF risk associated with the firm's business relationships and risk profile. The ESAs' Opinion highlights additional factors that national regulators can take into account when assessing the adequacy of any proposed use of innovative CDD solutions. These include: oversight and control mechanisms; the quality and adequacy of CDD measures; the reliability of CDD measures; delivery channel risk; and geographical risks.
View the Opinion.
Final EU Guidelines for Payment Service Providers on Preventing Terrorist Financing and Money Laundering in Electronic Fund Transfers
The Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities has published final Guidelines on preventing terrorist financing and money laundering in electronic fund transfers under the EU Wire Transfer Regulation. The Wire Transfer Regulation, which applied from June 26, 2017, requires payment service providers, among other things, to have effective procedures to detect transfers of funds that lack the required information on the payer and the payee and to determine whether to execute, reject or suspend a transfer of funds that lacks that information.
The Guidelines set out the factors that payment service providers should consider when establishing and implementing procedures to detect and manage transfers of funds which do not have the required payer and payee information to ensure that their procedures are effective. The Guidelines also specify what a payment service provider should do to manage the risk of money laundering or terrorist financing where that information is missing or incomplete. Further, the Guidelines will assist payment service providers to determine which fund transfers fall within the scope of the Wire Transfer Regulation and how the exemptions might apply. National regulators are required to use the Guidelines when assessing the adequacy of a payment service provider's procedures.
The Guidelines will apply to all payment service providers and intermediary payment service providers as well as their national regulators from July 16, 2018.
View the Guidelines.
Financial Action Task Force Reports on Financing of Recruitment to Terrorist Organizations
The Financial Action Task Force has published a Report on the financing of recruitment for terrorist purposes, as part of its strategy on combating terrorist financing. The Report has been compiled using input from relevant authorities and country experts from jurisdictions within the FATF Global Network, including the Asia Pacific, Eurasian, Middle-East and North African regions.
The Report examines the typical methods of recruitment to terrorist organizations and the costs associated with those methods. Recruitment methods vary from region to region. Techniques include recruitment via religious groups in some regions and online recruitment via social media in others. The Report also presents case study data on the sources of funds available to terrorist recruiters and the general expenditures involved in the recruitment process.
The Report concludes by recommending improved inter-agency and international co-operation to share information and analyze suspected recruiters and financial supporters of terrorist organizations. The Report recommends that national operational and security agencies engage more with the private sector, non-profit organizations and social media and other internet providers, by providing better contextual information and guidance to enable those providers to identify the financial flows associated with terrorist recruitment.
View the Report.
UK Joint Money Laundering Steering Group Publishes Final Revised Guidance for Financial Services
The Joint Money Laundering Steering Group has published final revised guidance on anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing for the financial services sector. The revised guidance will only replace the existing guidance once it has been approved by HM Treasury, however, the JMLSG notes that firms may use the revised version if they wish to.
View JMLSG's announcement.
European Commission Consults on Improving the SME Markets
The European Commission has published a consultation paper in which it seeks views on the main challenges for SME-dedicated markets and possible changes to EU legislation that might help build the EU high-growth SME markets. The consultation paper follows previous consultations and papers relating to the Capital Markets Union Action Plan.
The consultation focuses on SME Growth Markets, a new type of trading venue introduced under the Markets in Financial Instruments package. The consultation paper is split into two sections, the first of which considers the main drivers behind the downward trend of SME initial public offerings and bond issuances. The second section considers specific regulatory barriers to SME markets, small issuers and the local ecosystems surrounding SME markets. In particular, the Commission is seeking views on the MiFID II provisions which set the scope of SME Growth Markets, the market requirements for SME issuers to be assisted by a key adviser, delisting rules on SME Growth Markets and transfer of listings.
UK Publishes New Anti-Corruption Strategy
The U.K. Government has published a U.K. Anti-Corruption Strategy 2017 to 2022 setting out how the U.K. Government intends to combat corruption over the next five years. The Strategy identifies the following six priorities:
1. Reduce the insider threat in high risk domestic sectors;
2. Strengthen the integrity of the United Kingdom as an international financial centre;
3. Promote integrity across the public and private sectors;
4. Reduce corruption in public procurement and grants;
5. Improve the business environment globally; and
6. Work with other countries to combat corruption.
In strengthening the United Kingdom’s position as an international financial centre, the Government intends to ensure greater transparency over ownership and control of legal entities, stronger enforcement, enhanced anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing measures and a better means for sharing information between the public and private sectors.
View the strategy.
EU Final Draft Technical Standards on Mitigating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in Third Countries
The Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities has published a final Report and final draft joint Regulatory Technical Standards on the measures that financial institutions should take to mitigate the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing where a third country's laws do not permit the application of group-wide policies and procedures. The Fourth Money Laundering Directive, which entered into force on June 26, 2015, requires a financial institution to put policies and procedures in place to mitigate and manage the money laundering and terrorist financing risks to which it is exposed. Where a financial institution is part of a group, the policies and procedures must be implemented at group level. Additional policies and procedures must be implemented where a financial institution has a branch or majority-owned subsidiary in a third country whose laws do not allow the implementation of group-wide policies.
UK Regulator Warns of Risks of Investing in Cryptocurrency CFDs and Binary Options
The UK Financial Conduct Authority has issued two consumer warnings on the risks of investing in contracts for differences relating to cryptocurrencies (that is, digital assets such as Bitcoin or Ethereum) and the risks of trading binary options.
European Securities and Markets Authority Issues Alerts to Firms and Investors on Initial Coin Offerings
The European Securities and Markets Authority has published a statement alerting investors about the high risks of investment in Initial Coin Offerings, including the risk of total loss of their investment. The statement is accompanied by an alert to EU firms involved in ICOs reminding them of their regulatory obligations.
US Office of Foreign Assets Control Amends Cuba Sanctions Program, Implementing Trump Directive
The Office of Foreign Assets Control has amended the Cuban Assets Control Regulations to implement changes to the Cuba sanctions program announced by President Trump in June of this year, which aimed to reinforce certain policies that had been relaxed by the Obama Administration. Most significantly, President Trump directed OFAC to impose new travel restrictions and curtail transactions with businesses controlled by the Cuban military, intelligence, and security sectors - a prohibition many companies feared would heavily impact the tourism industry.
According to OFAC, the changes are "intended to channel economic activities away from the Cuban military, intelligence, and security services, while maintaining opportunities for Americans to engage in authorized travel to Cuba and support the private, small business sector in Cuba." The new regulations impose new travel restrictions on Americans and prohibit direct financial dealings with more than 80 hotels and dozens of other companies considered to be tied to Cuba's military, intelligence, or security services.
Financial Action Task Force Supplements its Guidance to Promote Financial Inclusion
The Financial Action Task Force has published a 2017 Supplement to the 2013 Guidance on AML/CFT Measures and Financial Inclusion. The 2013 Guidance sets out how anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing measures could be designed to achieve financial inclusion without compromising financial crime fighting. The 2017 Supplement is intended to encourage financial inclusion by providing examples of how countries have adapted their customer due diligence measures for this purpose through simplified CDD or alternative forms of identity verification.
View the FATF Supplement.
View the 2013 Guidance.
Financial Action Task Force Guidance on Private Sector Information Sharing
The Financial Action Task Force has published new Guidance on private sector information sharing in the context of anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing. The Guidance is intended to improve information sharing, which is a key part of the FATF Recommendations and Immediate Outcomes, by assisting national regulators and financial institutions to implement the FATF Recommendations. This non-binding Guidance discusses the obstacles to information sharing at a group-wide level and between different financial institutions. Those include different legal frameworks for data protection and privacy, financial secrecy laws, operational issues, such as IT capability and lack of policies and procedures, and, for national regulators, implementing consolidated supervision. The Guidance also includes examples of how some countries have addressed these challenges.
View the FATF Guidance.
UK Government Publishes 2017 National Risk Assessment of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing
HM Treasury has published a National Risk Assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing for 2017. The 2017 NRA identifies risks that have changed since the first NRA was published in 2015, assesses the UK's current understanding of these risks and discusses the high-risk areas in more detail. The key findings of the 2017 NRA for the financial services sector include:
1. The steps to address the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing to the financial services sector are starting to take effect but the risk profile has not moved significantly yet. However, there is now an increased understanding of the varying risk profiles across different parts of the sector.
2. The risks of money laundering and terrorist financing to the retail banking sector are both high, mostly due to the criminal intent to exploit retail banking products and the increasing speed and volume of transactions.
European Securities and Markets Authority Launches Next Stage of EU Reporting System
The European Securities and Markets Authority has announced the launch of the second phase of its Financial Instrument Reference Database (FIRDS). FIRDS covers the requirements under both the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation and the Market Abuse Regulation for reference data collection, transparency reporting obligations, submission of the Double Volume Cap data and the transaction exchange reporting mechanism. With the launch, ESMA is providing access to the database holding the currently available reference data that market participants will use to identify instruments subject to the reference data reporting requirements. The aim of the launch is to assist market participants in preparing their systems in advance of the obligation coming into effect on January 3, 2018.
View ESMA's announcement.
Wolfsberg Group Adopts New Standards on Correspondent Banking and Payment Transparency
The Wolfsberg Group has published two new standards, the Correspondent Banking Due Diligence Questionnaire (CBDDQ) and the revised Payment Transparency Standards. The Wolfsberg Group was established in 2002 and comprises thirteen banks. Its objective is to develop frameworks and guidance for the management of financial crime risks. Both of the new standards are intended to support the work on de-risking in correspondent banking by the Financial Stability Board, the Financial Action Task Force and the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructure.
View the CBDDQ.
View the revised Payment Transparency Standards.
Global Standard Setter Consults on Strategy to Address Wholesale Payments Fraud
The Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures is consulting on a possible strategy to improve the security of wholesale payments involving banks, financial market infrastructures and other financial institutions. The CPMI is a global standard setter, mandated to promote the safety and efficiency of payment, clearing, settlement and related arrangements. It formed a task force in 2016, to look into the evolving threat and increasing sophistication of wholesale payments fraud. The CPMI taskforce undertook a stocktake of current practices. The resulting discussion note highlights for consultation seven elements relating to preventing, detecting, responding to and communicating about wholesale payments fraud.
Stakeholders are invited to provide input on the proposed strategy by November 28, 2017. Consultation responses will contribute to guidance on the seven elements, which the CPMI aims to develop by early 2018.
View the CPMI Discussion Note.