Regulators clarify how institutions can share AML resources

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WASHINGTON — Five federal agencies on Wednesday detailed how community banks and credit unions may share resources to improve Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money-laundering compliance in certain circumstances.

The Federal Reserve Board, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and National Credit Union Administration issued a joint statement on the types collaborative arrangements that a bank could employ to make BSA/AML compliance more efficient.

The statement focused on resource-sharing arrangements for financial institutions with “a community focus, less complex operations, and lower-risk profiles for money laundering or terrorist financing.”

“It is important that collaborative arrangements be designed and implemented in accordance with the bank’s risk profile for money laundering and terrorist financing,” the agencies said in the statement. “Ultimately, each bank is responsible for ensuring compliance with BSA requirements. Sharing resources in no way relieves a bank of this responsibility. Nothing in this interagency statement alters a bank’s existing legal and regulatory requirements.”

The joint statement suggests that two or more banks may share resources pertaining to internal control functions, drafting and updating AML policies, and developing risk-based customer identification and account monitoring processes. The agencies also suggested that banks can share instructors to conduct BSA/AML training in communities where it can be hard to find qualified personnel.

Some banks have personnel performing multiple job functions, include some BSA/AML responsibilities, which can make it difficult to determine which employees should conduct the independent tests for compliance. In those cases, a bank may utilize personnel from another bank to conduct an independent BSA/AML test, as long as they are qualified and aren't involved in other BSA/AML testing at the bank being reviewed.

But the agencies warned that banks should not share BSA compliance officers designated by the boards of directors, due to the confidential nature of suspicious activity reports and the ability to coordinate and monitor day-to-day compliance.

The agencies also said reasonable systems should be put in place to ensure adequate oversight of collaborative arrangements.

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