Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Consulting
Is Your Institution or Business AML Compliant? We Can Help You Make Sure
Anti-money laundering (AML) compliance is a key concern for financial institutions, investment brokerages, and other businesses in a broad range of industries. In fact, all companies can potentially face AML implications within the context of certain operations. With this in mind, all companies need to address AML compliance, as non-compliance can lead to substantial (and even criminal) penalties under the Bank Secrecy Act and other federal laws.
At Corporate Investigation Consulting, we help banks, brokerages, and other businesses establish and maintain AML compliance. Our team of former high-ranking agents with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and other federal agencies is well-versed in all things anti-money laundering. We can comprehensively assess your entity’s AML compliance obligations, and we can help you implement policies, procedures, and practices that are designed to meet all pertinent federal requirements.
Why Focus on AML Compliance?
Why is AML compliance important? Not only are there substantial penalties for non-compliance, but various federal agencies and other authorities are currently vigorously enforcing institutions’ and businesses’ AML compliance obligations. This includes (but is by no means limited to) the obligations that exist under the following sources of authority:
- Bank Secrecy Act
- Money Laundering Control Act
- Annunzio-Wylie Anti-Money Laundering Act
- Money Laundering Suppression Act
- Money Laundering and Financial Crimes Strategy Act
- USA PATRIOT ACT
- Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act
- 31 CFR 1010.610 and 31 CFR 1026.220
- National Futures Association (NFA) Rule 2-9(c)
- Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Rule 3310
If your institution or business is subject to any of the above and it is not fully compliant, it could be at risk for civil or criminal enforcement action. This is true even if its deficiencies have not resulted in any money laundering transactions going unidentified or unreported.
10 Key Components of AML Compliance
Given the importance of AML compliance, all financial institutions, brokerages, and other businesses need to take adequate steps to ensure not only that they establish compliance, but also that they effectively maintain compliance on an ongoing basis. So, what does this entail? The following are 10 key components of an effective AML compliance program:
1. Written Policies and Procedures
Written policies and procedures are the foundation of any AML compliance program. Agencies such as the DOJ and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) emphasize that institutions’ and businesses’ AML compliance documentation should be custom-tailored to address their specific risks and compliance obligations. We can thoroughly evaluate your institution’s or business’s risks and obligations, and we can develop compliance policies and procedures that are suited to its particular needs.
2. AML Program Implementation
Once developed, an AML program must be implemented in all areas of the institution’s or business’s operations. Policies and procedures should include provisions for implementation, and entities should fully document their implementation efforts so that they can demonstrate good-faith compliance when necessary.
3. Employee Education and Training
Employee education and training are also crucial when it comes to mitigating risk in the area of AML compliance. All personnel should receive education and training that are suited to their specific roles. This applies both upon adoption of an AML compliance program and on an ongoing basis. Here, too, documentation is critical, as authorities such as the DOJ, CFTC, and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) expect to see evidence of compliance during AML investigations.
4. Customer Due Diligence
Customer due diligence under the “know your customer” or “KYC” provisions of federal AML laws and regulations is a key focus area for authorities such as the CFTC, FinCEN, National Futures Association (NFA), and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). These authorities expect institutions and brokerages not only to adopt standard customer due diligence practices, but also to adopt “enhanced” due diligence practices for utilization when warranted.
5. Suspicious Activity Identification and Reporting
Another key aspect of AML compliance for financial institutions and brokerages is suspicious activity reporting. The Bank Secrecy Act and its amendments and regulations establish extensive identification and reporting requirements for transactions that raise anti-money laundering concerns. This includes, but is by no means limited to, the use of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) as required under the Annunzio-Wylie Anti-Money Laundering Act.
6. Internal Auditing and Enforcement
Once implemented, institutions and businesses must monitor the efficacy of their AML compliance programs. This involves conducting both periodic and ad hoc internal audits in order to assess compliance and determine when enforcement and reporting are necessary. Institutions and businesses should include provisions for auditing and enforcement in their AML programs, and they should ensure strict adherence to these provisions in order to satisfy any potential concerns regulators may raise.
7. Independent Review
In addition to internal auditing and enforcement, many institutions and brokerages will also need to undergo independent AML reviews. For example, the CFTC states that, “[a]t a minimum,” futures commission merchants’ and introducing brokers’ AML programs must include, “[i]ndependent review to monitor and ensure AML program is adequately functioning.”
8. Maintaining an Updated AML Program
As with all aspects of compliance, establishing AML compliance is not a one-time event. Financial institutions, brokerages, and other businesses must routinely assess their compliance needs—in light of both new risks and new legal requirements. At Corporate Investigation Consulting, we monitor for additional and modified AML compliance obligations, and we help make sure our clients have the up-to-date policies and procedures they need to come out of federal AML investigations unscathed.
9. Documentation of Compliance
In order to satisfy federal authorities, entities must not only maintain AML compliance, but they must also be able to prove it. As a result, comprehensive documentation is absolutely critical. In addition to developing your institution’s or business’s AML compliance policies, procedures, and training programs, we can also assist with implementing the systems that are necessary to generate and store documentation of compliance on an ongoing basis.
10. AML Investigation Preparedness
Even with adequate AML compliance programs in place, entities can still expect to face scrutiny from federal agencies and other regulators. As a result, investigation preparedness is also a key aspect of AML compliance and risk mitigation. As former federal agents, our consultants are well-versed in what institutions, brokerages, and other businesses can expect during federal investigations, and we use this knowledge to help our clients develop proactive defense strategies.
FAQs: Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Compliance and Due Diligence
Does my bank, brokerage, or business need an AML compliance program?
Determining whether an entity needs an AML compliance program requires a detailed assessment of the entity’s operations and risks. With that said, there are certain categories of entities (i.e. financial institutions and brokerage firms) that are generally subject to AML compliance obligations. Our former federal agents can identify your entity’s specific AML requirements, and we can help you implement a compliance program that is custom-tailored to your entity’s legal obligations.
What is AML due diligence?
AML due diligence generally refers to the process of identifying customers to ensure that they do not pose risks for money laundering or other criminal activity. The CFTC advises that, a “due diligence program must ensure, at a minimum, that [a] financial institution takes reasonable steps to ascertain the identity of the nominal and beneficial owners of [a] private account, whether any such person is a senior foreign political figure, the sources of funds deposited into the private banking account and the purpose and expected use of the account.” The CFTC also advises that “enhanced” due diligence efforts will be required in various circumstances.
How often should my bank, brokerage, or business be reviewing its AML compliance efforts?
Minimally, entities should review their AML compliance efforts on an annual basis. This should entail conducting an internal compliance audit, and potentially obtaining an independent review as well. However, there are also circumstances in which more-frequent or ad hoc AML compliance assessments may be necessary—such as when an entity’s operations change or when Congress enacts a new law.
What are some of the most-common issues that lead to AML investigations?
There are numerous issues that can lead to AML investigations. This includes everything from failure to conduct adequate due diligence to failure to report suspicious transactions that federal authorities flag through other means. As virtually all AML compliance failures have the potential to lead to unwanted federal scrutiny, entities must undertake sufficient efforts to ensure comprehensive and good-faith compliance.
What should I do if the DOJ, CFTC, FinCEN, or another agency initiates an AML investigation?
If your bank, brokerage, or business is targeted in an AML investigation, you will need to respond immediately. Your initial response should focus on identifying the specific issues that are under investigation—without creating any unnecessary risk exposure. In addition to assisting entities with AML compliance, we provide consulting for AML investigation defense as well, and our former federal agents can get to work immediately protecting your financial institution or company.
Let’s Talk about Anti-Money Laundering Compliance
If you have questions about AML compliance, we encourage you to get in touch. To schedule a complimentary consultation with a former federal agent at Corporate Investigation Consulting, please call 866-352-9324 or contact us online today.