On June 14, 2024, President Biden declared June 15th World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.  In honor of the day, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) reminded financial institutions (FIs) to remain vigilant in identifying and reporting elder financial exploitation (EFE).

In issuing the reminder, FinCEN cited the Financial Trend Analysis (2024 Analysis) it

The European Parliament Votes to Ban Such Programs, with Immediate Effect as to all Russian Applicants

On March 9, the European Parliament (“Parliament”) voted overwhelmingly to limit citizenship-by-investment (“CBI”) programs in the European Union.  The vote, formally adopting a report by Sophie Int’ Veld, a Dutch Member of Parliament (“MEP”), calls on the European Commission (“Commission”) to enact legislation to phase out CBI programs and establish strict regulations governing residence-by-investment (“RBI”) programs.

Consistent with sweeping sanctions levied against Russia and affiliated entities and individuals in the wake of that country’s invasion of Ukraine, the Parliament is additionally calling for an immediate end to the processing of all Russian applicants of CBI/RBI programs.  The Parliament is also calling for EU members to “reassess” all approved applications from Russian citizens from the past few years to ensure that “no Russian individual with financial, business or other links to the Putin regime retains his or her citizenship and residency rights.”

As we will discuss, the risks for countries implementing CBI/RBI programs are significant, not least of which is the potential facilitation of corruption and money laundering.  As the Parliament noted in its report, these risks often cannot be properly assessed due to a lack of transparency and are not sufficiently managed, resulting in weak vetting and a lack of due diligence.
Continue Reading  “Golden” Passports and Visas

Relief is Narrow, but FinCEN’s Explanation of Low Money Laundering Risk Posed by Lending Products is Instructive

On May 11, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) issued a ruling to provide exceptive relief from the application of the new Beneficial Ownership rule (the “BO Rule,” about which we repeatedly have blogged: see here, here and here) to premium finance lending products that allow for cash refunds.

Very generally, the BO Rule — effective as of May 11, 2018 — requires covered financial institutions to identify and verify the identity of the beneficial owner of legal entity customers at account opening. One exemption provided by the BO Rule from its requirements is when a legal entity customer opens a new account for the purpose of financing insurance premiums and the payments are remitted directly by the financial institution to the insurance provider or broker.  However, this exemption does not apply when there is a possibility of cash refunds.

In its May 11th ruling, FinCEN granted exceptive relief from the BO Rule to premium finance lenders whose payments are remitted directly to the insurance provider or broker, even if the lending involves the potential for a cash refund.  Although this exception is narrow when compared to the many other financial institutions covered by the broad BO Rule, FinCEN’s explanation for why the excepted entities present a low risk for money laundering is potentially instructive in other contexts, such as risk assessments undertaken by financial institutions for the purposes of their anti-money laundering (“AML”) compliance programs.
Continue Reading  FinCEN Provides Exceptive Relief from New Beneficial Ownership Rule

As 2017 winds down, we are taking a look back at the first year of Money Laundering Watch.

We want to thank our many readers around the world who have made Money Laundering Watch such a success since we launched it less than a year ago. The feedback we receive from financial industry professionals, compliance