Corporate Transparency Act

Strategy Touts Regulations on Beneficial Ownership, Real Estate and Investment Advisers, but Bemoans Lack of Supervisory Resources for Non-Bank Financial Institutions

The U.S. Department of the Treasury has issued its 2024 National Strategy for Combatting Terrorist and Other Illicit Financing (“Strategy”).  It is a 55-page document which, according to the government’s press release, “addresses the key risks from the 2024 National Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Proliferation Financing Risk Assessments. . . and details how the United States will build on recent historic efforts to modernize the U.S. anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime, enhance operational effectiveness in combating illicit actors, and embrace technological innovation to mitigate risks.”

The Strategy discusses an enormous list of topics.  Given the breadth of its scope, the Strategy generally makes only very high-level comments regarding any particular topic.  This post accordingly is extremely high level as well, and offers only a few select comments. 

Continue Reading  Treasury Issues Broad National Strategy for Combatting Illicit Financing

On April 18, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) released updated FAQs related to the Corporate Transparency Act (“CTA”) and Beneficial Ownership Information (“BOI”) Rule. The last round of updates occurred in January 2024. As we previously have reported, the FAQs do not create any new requirements and are intended to clarify the regulation. In total, there are 16 new FAQs and 2 updated FAQs. We have included brief summaries below.

One of the main take-aways is that FinCEN does not expect to provide access to CTA BOI to financial institutions (“FIs”) until 2025.  In the interim, FinCEN will issue the long-awaited proposed regulations seeking to align the CTA with the Customer Due Diligence (“CDD”) Rule already applicable to certain FIs, including banks, which requires FIs to obtain BOI from covered entity customers opening accounts.  This delay is likely very frustrating for FIs seeking to comply with the CTA and adjust their existing systems for complying with the CDD Rule.

Continue Reading  FinCEN Releases Updated BOI FAQs

We previously blogged on the lawsuit filed by the National Small Business Association (“NSBA”) and one of its individual members, which sought to challenge the constitutionality of the Corporate Transparency Act (“CTA”). Most recently, we analyzed the March 1 decision in that case by the Northern District of Alabama court, finding the CTA to be unconstitutional and enjoining the United States government from enforcing it against the plaintiffs.

The government sought an appeal before the Eleventh Circuit, and last Monday the Treasury Department filed its appellate brief. Before the District Court, the government argued that Congress had authority to enact the CTA under three distinct enumerated powers: (1) oversight of foreign affairs and national security; (2) its Commerce Clause-derived regulatory authority; and (3) its power to tax. The government’s brief on appeal focuses primarily on regulation of commercial activity, and its value as a component of the federal focus on combatting financial crime.

Continue Reading  Treasury Asks the Eleventh Circuit to Uphold the CTA and Congressional Authority

The Financial Action Task Force (“FATF”) has re-rated the U.S. as “largely compliant” with FATF’s Recommendation 24, which pertains to transparency related to beneficial ownership of legal persons.  Specifically, FATF released its seventh Enhanced Follow-Up Report (the “Report”) indicating that the improved re-rating was due, in part, to the implementation of the Corporate Transparency Act (“CTA”) as well as the Customer Due Diligence (“CDD”) Rule, which requires covered financial institutions to obtain beneficial ownership information (“BOI”) from designated entity customers opening up accounts.

FATF is an independent, inter-governmental body that develops global policies related to anti-money laundering, terrorist financing, and related crimes. As a member of FATF, the U.S. is subject to evaluations of its technical compliance with the various FATF recommendations. FATF’s lengthy Mutual Evaluation Report for the U.S. (“MER”), issued in December 2016, had identified the U.S. as “deficient” and subject to enhanced follow-up in regards to Recommendation 24.

In a press release, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen remarked that the re-rating was a result of the past decade of work by the Treasury Department and its interagency partners, and indicated Treasury’s commitment to “strengthening the implementation of the FATF’s global standards.”  As we have blogged, the U.S. has been subject to global criticism for years because it has been perceived as a haven for money laundering and tax evasion.

Continue Reading  FATF Re-Rates United States as “Largely Compliant” with Beneficial Ownership Recommendation

We are very pleased to be presenting on both Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) compliance and the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA), in partnership with the Practicing Law Institute

First, on April 8 at 1 p.m., Siana Danch will discuss issues involving the CTA during a live one-hour briefing with Sara C. Lenet of Hogan

With Guest Speaker IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent Jonathan Schnatz

We are very fortunate to have Special Agent Jonathan Schnatz as our guest speaker in this podcast on international efforts to investigate tax evasion and money laundering, and how they relate to criminal investigations and civil audits of U.S. businesses and individuals.

Special Agent Schnatz

Years in the making, on February 13, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”) to include “investment adviser” (“IA”) within the definition of “financial institution” under the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”). FinCEN has posted a fact sheet on the NPRM here.

The NPRM subjects broad categories of IAs to statutory and regulatory anti-money laundering/countering terrorist financing (“AML/CTF”) compliance obligations. FinCEN is accepting comments on the NPRM until April 15, 2024.

Continue Reading  FinCEN Seeks to Make Investment Advisers Subject to Bank Secrecy Act

On March 1, Judge Liles C. Burke of the Northern District of Alabama issued a Memorandum Opinion (“Opinion”) and Final Judgment, finding that the Corporate Transparency Act (“CTA”) is unconstitutional.  We blogged on this lawsuit when it was filed in November 2022.

The opening paragraph of the Opinion is worthy of repetition:

The late Justice Antonin Scalia once remarked that federal judges should have a rubber stamp that says STUPID BUT CONSTITUTIONAL. See Jennifer Senior, In Conversation: Antonin Scalia, New York Magazine, Oct. 4, 2013. The Constitution, in other words, does not allow judges to strike down a law merely because it is foolish, burdensome or offensive. Yet the inverse is also true—the wisdom of a policy is no guarantee of its constitutionality. Indeed, even in the pursuit of sensible and praiseworthy ends, Congress sometimes enacts smart laws that violate the Constitution. This case, which concerns the constitutionality of the Corporate Transparency Act, illustrates that principle.

Having set the tone, the Opinion proceeds to reject the government’s three arguments that Congress had the authority to enact the CTA under the following enumerated and broad powers:

1.         Congress’ ability to oversee foreign affairs and national security;

2.         Congress’ ability to regulate under the Commerce Clause; and

3.         Congress’ taxing power.

As we will discuss, the Opinion reaches its conclusions by generally taking a broad view of States’ autonomy and a narrow view of the ability of Congress to regulate primarily “local” activity in the name of protecting national security.  It also finds that Congress cannot regulate the act of incorporation alone, and that the CTA presumably could pass constitutional muster if it applied only when a reporting entity actually begins to engage in commercial activity.  The immediate, nationwide effects of the Opinion are hard to predict at this time, other than to observe simply that the Opinion will have significant impact, and that confusion will ensue.

Continue Reading  Federal District Court Ruling:  The CTA is Unconstitutional

On February 16, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Center (“FinCEN”) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) regarding residential real estate.  The final version of the NPRM published in the Federal Register is 47 pages long.  We have created a separate document which more clearly sets forth the proposed regulations themselves, at 31 C.F.R. § 1031.320, here.

FinCEN also has published a Fact Sheet regarding the NPRM, here.  The Fact Sheet, slightly over four pages long, is helpful and walks through the basics of many of the proposed requirements.

The NPRM proposes to impose a nation-wide reporting requirement for the details of residential real estate transactions, subject to some exceptions, in which the buyer is a covered entity or trust.  Title agencies, escrow companies, settlement agents, and lawyers need to pay particular attention to the NPRM because, based on FinCEN’s “cascade” approach to who should be responsible for complying with the reporting requirements, these parties are the most likely to be responsible.

Although the NPRM pertains only to residential transactions, FinCEN has indicated that it intends to publish a separate proposed rulemaking in 2024 regarding commercial real estate transactions.

Continue Reading  FinCEN Proposes BSA Reporting Requirements for Residential Real Estate

The beneficial ownership information (“BOI”) registry under the Corporate Transparency Act (“CTA”) is now up and running at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”).  This post will follow up on a previous blog regarding the recently-published CTA BOI access regulations (the “Access Rule”).  As we will discuss, the Access Rule leaves open many important questions for financial institutions (“FIs”) covered by the CTA, as they await further proposed regulations from FinCEN regarding alignment of the CTA with the Customer Due Diligence (“CDD”) Rule.

The full federal register publication for the Access Rule is here.  It is 82 pages long.  We therefore have created this separate 13-page document, which is slightly more user-friendly, setting forth only the actual regulations (now published at 31 C.F.R. § 1010.955).

Continue Reading  Final CTA Access Rule Answers Some Questions, and Leaves Open Others