Alert February 21, 2012

FinCEN Issues Advisory to Financial Institutions Providing Services to Foreign-Located Money Services Businesses

FinCEN published an advisory regarding financial institutions' obligations under the Bank Secrecy Act, as they relate to foreign-located money services businesses. Pursuant to the Advisory, financial institutions are under a continuing obligation to file suspicious activity reports if they suspect funds are related to laundering, terrorism, or any other illegal activity, and may need to update their anti-money laundering policies and procedures.

The advisory also provided financial institutions with guidance on what constitutes a money services business, noting relevant factors, such as whether the foreign-located person is providing services to customers residing in the United States; clarified that foreign-located money service businesses are considered financial institutions under the Act, and, therefore, are subject to the same penalties for violation of the Act and its implementing regulations, as well as the Act's requirements on record-keeping, reporting and AML programs. Foreign-located money services businesses, however, will not be required to comply with the agent appointment and registration requirement until the revised registration is made available, currently scheduled for release in March. Click here for the advisory.