Bank Secrecy Act, 6586-6589 [2021-00048]

Download as PDF 6586 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 13 / Friday, January 22, 2021 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS seek FinCEN’s determination whether the exemption is consistent with the purposes of the BSA, if applicable. The exemption shall be applicable only as expressly stated in the exemption, may be conditional or unconditional, may apply to particular persons or to classes of persons, and may apply to transactions or classes of transactions. The FDIC will seek FinCEN’s concurrence with regard to any exemption request that also requires an exemption from FinCEN’s SAR regulation, and may consult with FinCEN regarding other exemption requests. The FDIC also may consult with the other state and federal banking agencies before granting any exemption. (4) The FDIC will provide a written response to the FDIC-supervised institution that submitted the exemption request after considering whether the exemption is consistent with safe and sound banking, consulting with the appropriate agencies, and seeking concurrence when appropriate. An FDIC-supervised institution that has received an exemption under paragraph (d)(3) of this section may rely on the exemption for a period of time to be communicated by the FDIC in its granting of the exemption, which may be indefinite. (5) The FDIC may extend the period of time or may revoke an exemption granted under paragraph (d)(3) of this section. Exemptions may be revoked at the sole discretion of the FDIC. The FDIC will provide written notice to the FDIC-supervised institution of the FDIC’s intention to revoke an exemption. The notice will include the basis for the revocation and will provide an opportunity for the FDIC-supervised institution to submit a response to the FDIC. The FDIC will consider the response prior to deciding whether or not to revoke an exemption, and will notify the FDIC-supervised institution of the FDIC’s final decision to revoke an exemption in writing. * * * * * Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. By order of the Board of Directors. Dated at Washington, DC, on December 15, 2020. James P. Sheesley, Assistant Executive Secretary. [FR Doc. 2021–00037 Filed 1–21–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6714–01–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:14 Jan 21, 2021 Jkt 253001 NATIONAL CREDIT UNION ADMINISTRATION 12 CFR Part 748 RIN 3133–AF25 Bank Secrecy Act National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: The NCUA Board (Board) is inviting comment on a proposed rule that would modify the requirements for federally insured credit unions (FICUs) to file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs). The proposed rule would amend the NCUA’s SARs regulation to allow the Board to issue exemptions from the requirements of that regulation in order to grant relief to FICUs that develop innovative solutions to meet the requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). DATES: Comments must be received by February 22, 2021. ADDRESSES: You may submit written comments, identified by RIN 3133– AF25, by any of the following methods (Please send comments by one method only): • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. • Fax: (703) 518–6319. Include ‘‘[Your Name]—Comments on Proposed Rule: Bank Secrecy Act’’ in the transmittal. • Mail: Address to Melane ConyersAusbrooks, Secretary of the Board, National Credit Union Administration, 1775 Duke Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314–3428. • Hand Delivery/Courier: Same as mail address. Public Inspection: You may view all public comments on the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http:// www.regulations.gov as submitted, except for those we cannot post for technical reasons. The NCUA will not edit or remove any identifying or contact information from the public comments submitted. Due to social distancing measures in effect, the usual opportunity to inspect paper copies of comments in the NCUA’s law library is not currently available. After social distancing measures are relaxed, visitors may make an appointment to review paper copies by calling (703) 518–6540 or emailing OGCMail@ncua.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Policy and Analysis: Timothy Segerson, Deputy Director, Office of Examination and Insurance, (703) 518–6397; Legal:Justin Anderson, Senior Staff SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Attorney, Damon P. Frank, Staff Attorney, and Chrisanthy J. Loizos, Senior Staff Attorney, Office of General Counsel, (703) 518–6540; or by mail at National Credit Union Administration, 1775 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Introduction Requirements related to SARs are codified in 12 CFR 748.1(c). This section of the NCUA’s regulations requires FICUs to file SARs under certain conditions. In addition, this section provides for: (i) Board of director or other committee notification; (ii) filing exceptions; (iii) SAR confidentiality; (iv) recordkeeping requirements; (v) supporting documentation requirements; and (vi) limitations on liability. The proposed rule would allow the NCUA to issue exemptions from the regulation’s SAR requirements. II. Background The NCUA’s original SARs regulation required FICUs to report potential violations of law arising from transactions that flow through those institutions.1 As discussed in more detail later in this document, this regulation has been amended and updated since its inception. The NCUA’s purpose for the regulation has, however, remained unchanged because fraud, abusive insider transactions, check-kiting schemes, money laundering, and other financial crimes can pose serious threats to a financial institution’s continued viability and, if unchecked, can undermine the public confidence in the nation’s financial services industry generally.2 In 1992, Congress passed the Annunzio-Wylie Anti-Money Laundering Act (the Anti-Money Laundering Act), which redesigned the criminal referral process applicable to credit unions and made the reporting of certain suspicious transactions a requirement of the BSA.3 The AntiMoney Laundering Act permitted the Department of the Treasury to require financial institutions, including credit unions, to ‘‘report any suspicious transaction relevant to a possible violation of law or regulation.’’ 4 1 See 50 FR 53294–01 (Dec. 31, 1985). FR 5663 (Jan. 22, 1993). 3 Public Law 102–550, 106 Stat. 3672, 4059 (1992). 4 31 U.S.C. 5318(g)(1). The quoted text is from section 1517 of the Annunzio-Wylie Anti-Money Laundering Act, which was originally codified at 31 U.S.C. 5314(g). The text was moved as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. 2 58 E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 13 / Friday, January 22, 2021 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Thereafter, the Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the NCUA, the other federal banking agencies,5 and law enforcement developed the modern SAR form and reporting process, which standardized the reporting forms and created a centralized database that could be accessed by multiple law enforcement and regulatory agencies. To implement this new reporting system, in 1996, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the Department of the Treasury (FinCEN) issued its implementing SAR regulations for financial institutions subject to the requirements of the BSA to, among other things, specifically address the reporting of money laundering transactions and transactions designed to evade the reporting requirements of the BSA.6 To further implement this new reporting process and reduce unnecessary reporting burdens, the NCUA and the other federal banking agencies contemporaneously amended their criminal referral form regulations to incorporate the new SAR form and reporting database, align their regulatory reporting requirements with FinCEN’s BSA reporting requirements, and further refine the reporting processes.7 As a result of this redesign and FinCEN’s implementing regulations, FICUs are currently required to file SARs under both NCUA and FinCEN regulations. These regulations are not identical but are substantially similar with regard to the specified BSA reporting obligations required by FinCEN. Both the NCUA’s and FinCEN’s SAR regulations, among other things, require FICUs to file SARs relating to money laundering and transactions that are designed to evade the reporting requirements of the BSA 8 Furthermore, with respect to the SAR confidentiality requirements in the BSA, both the NCUA’s and FinCEN’s SAR regulations require FICUs to maintain the confidentiality of a SAR, and any 5 For purposes of this rulemaking, the other federal banking agencies are defined as the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve (FRB), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). 6 61 FR 4326 (Feb. 5, 1996) (FinCEN). The NCUA’s current regulation is codified at 12 CFR 748.1(c)(1)(iv)(B). It should be noted that prior to the adoption of FinCEN’s SAR regulation in 1996 and the accompanying revisions to the NCUA’s regulation, the NCUA’s criminal referral regulation did not have a specific provision that required the reporting of money laundering transactions. However, the required criminal referral form broadly encompassed money laundering and structuring transactions. 7 61 FR 11526 (Mar. 21, 1996) (NCUA); 61 FR 4326 (Feb. 5, 1996) (FinCEN). 8 12 CFR 748.1(c)(1)(iv)(B) (NCUA); 31 CFR 1020.320(a)(2) (FinCEN). VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:14 Jan 21, 2021 Jkt 253001 information that would reveal the existence of the SAR, outside of certain circumstances.9 However, the NCUA’s and the other federal banking agencies’ regulations cover a slightly broader range of transactions (e.g., insider abuse at any dollar amount).10 The NCUA and FinCEN SAR regulations also provide: (i) That SARs are not required for a robbery or burglary committed or attempted that is reported to appropriate law enforcement authorities; (ii) that SARs are confidential and shall not be disclosed except as authorized; (iii) recordkeeping requirements for SARs and supporting documentation; (iv) that supporting documentation shall be deemed to have been filed with the SAR; and (v) that supporting documentation shall be made available to appropriate law enforcement agencies upon request. The NCUA and FinCEN SAR regulations also provide a safe harbor from liability to any FICU and any of its officials, employees, or agents that make a voluntary disclosure of any possible violation of law or regulation to a government agency or file a SAR pursuant to the regulations or any other authority. The NCUA’s regulation also contains a provision requiring that FICUs promptly notify their board of directors or committee designated by the board of directors to receive such notifications when a SAR has been filed. FinCEN has general authority to grant exemptions from the requirements of the BSA, which includes granting exemptions under its SAR reporting regulations.11 FinCEN’s regulation provides that ‘‘[t]he Secretary [of Treasury], in his sole discretion, may by written order or authorization make exceptions to or grant exemptions from the requirements of [the BSA]. Such exemptions may be conditional or unconditional, may apply to particular persons or to classes of persons, and may apply to transactions or classes of transactions.’’ The Secretary has delegated this exemption authority to FinCEN.12 As financial technology and innovation continue to develop in the area of monitoring and reporting financial crime and terrorist financing, the NCUA will need the express regulatory flexibility to grant exemptive 9 12 CFR 748.1(c)(5) (NCUA); 31 CFR 1020.320(e)(1) (FinCEN). 10 12 CFR 748.1(c) (NCUA); 12 CFR 208.62 (FRB); 12 CFR 390.355 (FDIC); 12 CFR 21.11, 163.80 (OCC). 11 See 31 U.S.C. 5318(a)(7), with implementing regulations at 31 CFR 1010.970. 12 Treas. Order 180–01, (re-affirmed Jan. 14, 2020). PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 6587 relief when appropriate in this area on a consistent basis. In 2018, the NCUA, FinCEN, and the other federal banking agencies issued a statement encouraging financial institutions to take innovative approaches to meet their BSA/antimoney laundering (BSA/AML) compliance obligations.13 That statement explained that financial institutions are encouraged to consider, evaluate, and where appropriate, responsibly implement innovative approaches in this area. Today, innovative approaches and technological developments in the areas of SAR monitoring, investigation and filings may involve, among other things: (i) Automated form population using natural language processing, transaction data, and customer due diligence information; (ii) automated or limited investigation processes depending on the complexity and risk of a particular transaction and appropriate safeguards; and (iii) enhanced monitoring processes using more and better data, optical scanning, artificial intelligence, or machine learning capabilities. Requests for exemptive relief pertaining to innovation or other matters may involve, among other things, expanded investigations and SAR timing issues, SAR disclosures and sharing, continued SAR filings for ongoing activity, SAR outsourcing of responsibilities and practices, the role of agents of FICUs, the use of shared utilities and shared data, and the use and sharing of deidentified data. The NCUA expects that new technologies will continue to prompt additional innovative approaches related to SAR filing and monitoring. It is important to recognize that any NCUA-issued exemptions from its SAR regulation would not relieve the FICU from independent obligation to comply with FinCEN’s SAR regulations, if applicable. To the extent an exemption request from a FICU involves both the NCUA’s SAR regulation and FinCEN’s SAR regulation, the FICU would need an exemption from both the NCUA and FinCEN. The NCUA expects to coordinate with FinCEN when handling parallel exemptions. As explained above, however, the NCUA’s SAR regulation imposes additional requirements not included in FinCEN’s SAR regulation. To the extent an exemption request is subject to a requirement imposed by the NCUA’s SAR regulation alone (and not a parallel 13 Joint Statement on Innovative Efforts to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Dec. 3, 2018), available at https://www.ncua.gov/ newsroom/press-release/2018/agencies-issue-jointstatement-encourage-innovative-approachesbsaaml-compliance. E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1 6588 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 13 / Friday, January 22, 2021 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS FinCEN requirement), the proposed rule would allow the NCUA to exempt a FICU from that requirement. III. The Proposal This proposed rule would allow the NCUA to issue exemptions from the requirements of its SAR regulation. Specifically, the proposed rule would add a provision to 12 CFR 748.1 that would provide that the NCUA may exempt a FICU from the requirements of that section. Under the proposed rule, the NCUA would determine whether the exemption is consistent with the purposes of the BSA, if applicable, and with safe and sound practices, and may consider other appropriate factors. The NCUA would also seek FinCEN’s determination on whether the exemption would be consistent with the purposes of the BSA. The exemptions may be conditional or unconditional, may apply to particular persons or to classes of persons, and may apply to transactions or classes of transactions. In addition, this proposal would require the NCUA to seek FinCEN’s concurrence regarding any exemption requests that involve an exemption from the requirement to file a SAR required by FinCEN regulations implementing the BSA. The proposal would also permit the NCUA to consult with FinCEN regarding other exemption requests. The NCUA may also consult with the other state and federal banking agencies before granting any exemption. Finally, the proposed rule provides that the NCUA may grant an exemption for a specified time period. Under the proposed rule, the NCUA could also revoke previously granted exemptions if circumstances change related to the factors set out above (consistency with the BSA and safety and soundness) or any imposed conditions. If the NCUA adopts this proposed rule and uses it to grant exemptions, such exemptions would not relieve a FICU from the obligation to comply with FinCEN’s SAR regulation, if applicable. To the extent a FICU is subject to requirements imposed by both the NCUA’s SAR regulation and FinCEN’s SAR regulation, the FICU would need to seek an exemption from both the NCUA and FinCEN. As explained above, however, the NCUA’s SAR regulation imposes additional requirements not included in FinCEN’s regulation. To the extent a FICU is subject to a requirement imposed by the NCUA’s SAR regulation alone (and not a parallel FinCEN requirement), the proposed rule would allow the NCUA to exempt a FICU from that requirement. The Board is providing for a 30-day comment period instead of a 60-day VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:14 Jan 21, 2021 Jkt 253001 comment period because the proposed rule is limited in scope, and the Board believes that 30 days will provide the public adequate time to review and comment on it.14 The Board invites comments on the proposed rule, including whether any additional detail relating to the procedures that would be followed in considering, granting or revoking exemptions is necessary. The Board is also specifically requesting comments on whether additional or different factors or standards should be applied in the determination whether to grant an exemption request, as well as the form and manner of the Board’s response to an exemption request. IV. Regulatory Procedures Regulatory Flexibility Act The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) generally requires that, in connection with a notice of proposed rulemaking, an agency prepare and make available for public comment an initial regulatory flexibility analysis that describes the impact of a proposed rule on small entities (defined for purposes of the RFA to include credit unions with assets less than $100 million).15 A regulatory flexibility analysis is not required, however, if the agency certifies that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities and publishes its certification and a short, explanatory statement in the Federal Register together with the rule. The proposed rule would allow FICUs to request exemptions from certain regulatory requirements if they choose to do so. As a result, it would not cause any increased burden or impose any new requirements on FICUs. Accordingly, the NCUA certifies that the proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small credit unions. Paperwork Reduction Act The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) applies to information collection requirements in which an agency creates a new paperwork burden on regulated entities or modifies an existing burden. For purposes of the PRA, a paperwork burden may take the form of a reporting, recordkeeping, or third-party disclosure requirement, each 14 See NCUA Interpretive Ruling and Policy Statement (IRPS) 87–2, as amended by IRPS 03–2 and IRPS 15–1. 80 FR 57512 (Sept. 24, 2015), available at https://www.ncua.gov/files/ publications/irps/IRPS1987-2.pdf. 15 See NCUA Interpretive Ruling and Policy Statement 87–2, as amended by IRPS 03–2 and IRPS 15–1, 80 FR 57512 (Sept. 24, 2015). PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 referred to as an information collection. The NCUA may not conduct or sponsor, and the respondent is not required to respond to, an information collection unless it displays a currently valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. This proposed rule adds a provision to § 748.1(c) that would allow FICUs to submit a written request to NCUA if it wishes to seek an exemption from the requirements of this section. There are 2,932 FICUs that currently file SARs annually. It is estimated that 50 of these FICUs would file for an exemption under the proposed new § 748.1(c)(7); taking 2 hours per response, for a total increase of 100 burden hours. This proposed rule would revise the information collection requirement currently approved under OMB number 3133–0094, as follows: Title of Information Collection: Suspicious Activity Report by Depository Institutions. OMB Control Number: 3133–0094. Estimated Number of Respondents: 2,932. Estimated Annual Frequency of Response: 65. Estimated Total Annual Reponses: 191,069. Estimated Hours per Response: 1. Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 191,119. Affected Public: Private Sector: Notfor-profit institutions. The NCUA invites comments on: (a) Whether the collections of information are necessary for the proper performance of the agencies’ functions, including whether the information has practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the estimates of the burden of the information collections, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; (d) ways to minimize the burden of the information collections on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and (e) estimates of capital or start-up costs and costs of operation, maintenance, and purchase of services to provide information. All comments are a matter of public record. Due to the limited in-house staff, email comments are preferred. Comments regarding the information collection requirements of this rule should be (1) emailed to: PRAcomments@ncua.gov with ‘‘OMB No. 3133–0094’’ in the subject line; faxed to 703–837–2406, or mailed to Mackie Malaka, NCUA PRA Clearance Officer, National Credit Union Administration, 1775 Duke Street, Suite E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 13 / Friday, January 22, 2021 / Proposed Rules 5080, Alexandria, Virginia 22314 and to the (2) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, at www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain. Select ‘‘Currently under 30-day Review—Open for Public Comments’’ or by using the search function. Executive Order 13132 Executive Order 13132 encourages independent regulatory agencies to consider the impact of their actions on state and local interests. In adherence to fundamental federalism principles, the NCUA, an independent regulatory agency as defined in 44 U.S.C. 3502(5), voluntarily complies with the principles of the executive order. This rulemaking will not have a substantial direct effect on the states, on the connection between the national government and the states, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. The NCUA has determined that this proposal does not constitute a policy that has federalism implications for purposes of the executive order. Assessment of Federal Regulations and Policies on Families The NCUA has determined that this proposed rule will not affect family well-being within the meaning of section 654 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 1999, Public Law 105–277, 112 Stat. 2681 (1998). List of Subjects in 12 CFR Part 748 Security program, report of suspected crimes, suspicious transactions, catastrophic acts and Bank Secrecy Act compliance. By the National Credit Union Administration Board on December 17, 2020. Melane Conyers-Ausbrooks, Secretary of the Board. For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Board proposes to amend 12 CFR part 748, as follows: PART 748—SECURITY PROGRAM, REPORT OF SUSPECTED CRIMES, SUSPICIOUS TRANSACTIONS, CATASTROPHIC ACTS AND BANK SECRECY ACT COMPLIANCE 1. The authority citation for part 748 continues to read as follows: jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS ■ Authority: 12 U.S.C. 1766(a), 1786(q); 15 U.S.C. 6801–6809; 31 U.S.C. 5311 and 5318. 2. Amend § 748.1 by adding new paragraph (c)(7) to read as follows: ■ § 748.1 * * Filing of reports. * VerDate Sep<11>2014 * [FR Doc. 2021–00048 Filed 1–21–21; 8:45 am] * 16:14 Jan 21, 2021 (c) Suspicious Activity Report. * * * (7) Exemptions. (i) The NCUA may exempt any federally insured credit union from the requirements of paragraph (c) of this section. Upon receiving a written request from a federally insured credit union, the NCUA will determine whether the exemption is consistent with safe and sound practices, and may consider other appropriate factors. The NCUA will also seek FinCEN’s determination whether the exemption is consistent with the purposes of the BSA, if applicable. The exemption shall be applicable only as expressly stated in the exemption, may be conditional or unconditional, may apply to particular persons or to classes of persons, and may apply to transactions or classes of transactions. The NCUA will seek FinCEN’s concurrence with regard to any exemption request that would also require an exemption from the requirements of FinCEN’s SAR regulations, and may consult with FinCEN regarding other exemption requests. The NCUA also may consult with the other state and federal banking agencies and consider comments before granting any exemption. (ii) The NCUA will provide a written response to the federally insured credit union that submitted the exemption request after considering whether the exemption is consistent with safe and sound banking, consulting with the appropriate agencies, and seeking concurrence when appropriate. A federally insured credit union that has received an exemption under paragraph (i) of this section may rely on the exemption for a period of time to be communicated by the NCUA in its granting of the exemption, which may indefinite. The NCUA may extend the period of time or may revoke an exemption granted under paragraph (i) of this section. Exemptions may be revoked at the sole discretion of the NCUA. The NCUA will provide written notice to the federally insured credit union of the NCUA’s intention to revoke an exemption. Such notice will include the basis for the revocation and will provide an opportunity for the federally insured credit union to submit a response to the NCUA. The NCUA will consider the credit union’s response prior to deciding whether to revoke an exemption and will notify the federally insured credit union of the NCUA’s decision to revoke an exemption in writing. BILLING CODE 7535–01–P Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 6589 ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA–R04–OAR–2020–0102; FRL–10018– 62–Region 4] Air Plan Approval; KY; Gasoline Loading Facilities at Existing Bulk Terminals and New Bulk Plants Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to approve revisions to the Jefferson County portion of the Kentucky State Implementation Plan (SIP), submitted by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, through the Energy and Environment Cabinet (Cabinet) on September 5, 2019. The revisions were submitted by the Cabinet on behalf of the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District (District) and include amendments related to the standards for existing gasoline loading facilities at bulk terminals and new gasoline loading facilities at bulk plants. The amendments to these standards replace a requirement for gasoline tank trucks to possess a valid Kentucky pressure vacuum test sticker with a requirement for specific vapor tightness testing and recordkeeping procedures, clarify rule applicability, and remove language stating that a pressure measuring device will be supplied by the District. EPA is proposing to approve the revisions because they are consistent with the Clean Air Act (CAA or Act). DATES: Comments must be received on or before February 22, 2021. ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA–R04– OAR–2020–0102 at www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from Regulations.gov. EPA may publish any comment received to its public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. EPA will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission (i.e., on the web, cloud, or other file sharing system). For additional submission methods, the full SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 13 (Friday, January 22, 2021)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 6586-6589]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-00048]


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NATIONAL CREDIT UNION ADMINISTRATION

12 CFR Part 748

RIN 3133-AF25


Bank Secrecy Act

AGENCY: National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: The NCUA Board (Board) is inviting comment on a proposed rule 
that would modify the requirements for federally insured credit unions 
(FICUs) to file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs). The proposed rule 
would amend the NCUA's SARs regulation to allow the Board to issue 
exemptions from the requirements of that regulation in order to grant 
relief to FICUs that develop innovative solutions to meet the 
requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).

DATES: Comments must be received by February 22, 2021.

ADDRESSES: You may submit written comments, identified by RIN 3133-
AF25, by any of the following methods (Please send comments by one 
method only):
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Fax: (703) 518-6319. Include ``[Your Name]--Comments on 
Proposed Rule: Bank Secrecy Act'' in the transmittal.
     Mail: Address to Melane Conyers-Ausbrooks, Secretary of 
the Board, National Credit Union Administration, 1775 Duke Street, 
Alexandria, Virginia 22314-3428.
     Hand Delivery/Courier: Same as mail address.
    Public Inspection: You may view all public comments on the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov as submitted, except 
for those we cannot post for technical reasons. The NCUA will not edit 
or remove any identifying or contact information from the public 
comments submitted. Due to social distancing measures in effect, the 
usual opportunity to inspect paper copies of comments in the NCUA's law 
library is not currently available. After social distancing measures 
are relaxed, visitors may make an appointment to review paper copies by 
calling (703) 518-6540 or emailing [email protected].

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Policy and Analysis: Timothy Segerson, 
Deputy Director, Office of Examination and Insurance, (703) 518-6397; 
Legal:Justin Anderson, Senior Staff Attorney, Damon P. Frank, Staff 
Attorney, and Chrisanthy J. Loizos, Senior Staff Attorney, Office of 
General Counsel, (703) 518-6540; or by mail at National Credit Union 
Administration, 1775 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Introduction

    Requirements related to SARs are codified in 12 CFR 748.1(c). This 
section of the NCUA's regulations requires FICUs to file SARs under 
certain conditions. In addition, this section provides for: (i) Board 
of director or other committee notification; (ii) filing exceptions; 
(iii) SAR confidentiality; (iv) recordkeeping requirements; (v) 
supporting documentation requirements; and (vi) limitations on 
liability. The proposed rule would allow the NCUA to issue exemptions 
from the regulation's SAR requirements.

II. Background

    The NCUA's original SARs regulation required FICUs to report 
potential violations of law arising from transactions that flow through 
those institutions.\1\ As discussed in more detail later in this 
document, this regulation has been amended and updated since its 
inception. The NCUA's purpose for the regulation has, however, remained 
unchanged because fraud, abusive insider transactions, check-kiting 
schemes, money laundering, and other financial crimes can pose serious 
threats to a financial institution's continued viability and, if 
unchecked, can undermine the public confidence in the nation's 
financial services industry generally.\2\
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    \1\ See 50 FR 53294-01 (Dec. 31, 1985).
    \2\ 58 FR 5663 (Jan. 22, 1993).
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    In 1992, Congress passed the Annunzio-Wylie Anti-Money Laundering 
Act (the Anti-Money Laundering Act), which redesigned the criminal 
referral process applicable to credit unions and made the reporting of 
certain suspicious transactions a requirement of the BSA.\3\ The Anti-
Money Laundering Act permitted the Department of the Treasury to 
require financial institutions, including credit unions, to ``report 
any suspicious transaction relevant to a possible violation of law or 
regulation.'' \4\

[[Page 6587]]

Thereafter, the Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the 
NCUA, the other federal banking agencies,\5\ and law enforcement 
developed the modern SAR form and reporting process, which standardized 
the reporting forms and created a centralized database that could be 
accessed by multiple law enforcement and regulatory agencies.
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    \3\ Public Law 102-550, 106 Stat. 3672, 4059 (1992).
    \4\ 31 U.S.C. 5318(g)(1). The quoted text is from section 1517 
of the Annunzio-Wylie Anti-Money Laundering Act, which was 
originally codified at 31 U.S.C. 5314(g). The text was moved as part 
of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
    \5\ For purposes of this rulemaking, the other federal banking 
agencies are defined as the Board of Governors of the Federal 
Reserve (FRB), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and 
the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).
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    To implement this new reporting system, in 1996, the Financial 
Crimes Enforcement Network of the Department of the Treasury (FinCEN) 
issued its implementing SAR regulations for financial institutions 
subject to the requirements of the BSA to, among other things, 
specifically address the reporting of money laundering transactions and 
transactions designed to evade the reporting requirements of the 
BSA.\6\ To further implement this new reporting process and reduce 
unnecessary reporting burdens, the NCUA and the other federal banking 
agencies contemporaneously amended their criminal referral form 
regulations to incorporate the new SAR form and reporting database, 
align their regulatory reporting requirements with FinCEN's BSA 
reporting requirements, and further refine the reporting processes.\7\
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    \6\ 61 FR 4326 (Feb. 5, 1996) (FinCEN). The NCUA's current 
regulation is codified at 12 CFR 748.1(c)(1)(iv)(B). It should be 
noted that prior to the adoption of FinCEN's SAR regulation in 1996 
and the accompanying revisions to the NCUA's regulation, the NCUA's 
criminal referral regulation did not have a specific provision that 
required the reporting of money laundering transactions. However, 
the required criminal referral form broadly encompassed money 
laundering and structuring transactions.
    \7\ 61 FR 11526 (Mar. 21, 1996) (NCUA); 61 FR 4326 (Feb. 5, 
1996) (FinCEN).
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    As a result of this redesign and FinCEN's implementing regulations, 
FICUs are currently required to file SARs under both NCUA and FinCEN 
regulations. These regulations are not identical but are substantially 
similar with regard to the specified BSA reporting obligations required 
by FinCEN. Both the NCUA's and FinCEN's SAR regulations, among other 
things, require FICUs to file SARs relating to money laundering and 
transactions that are designed to evade the reporting requirements of 
the BSA \8\ Furthermore, with respect to the SAR confidentiality 
requirements in the BSA, both the NCUA's and FinCEN's SAR regulations 
require FICUs to maintain the confidentiality of a SAR, and any 
information that would reveal the existence of the SAR, outside of 
certain circumstances.\9\
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    \8\ 12 CFR 748.1(c)(1)(iv)(B) (NCUA); 31 CFR 1020.320(a)(2) 
(FinCEN).
    \9\ 12 CFR 748.1(c)(5) (NCUA); 31 CFR 1020.320(e)(1) (FinCEN).
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    However, the NCUA's and the other federal banking agencies' 
regulations cover a slightly broader range of transactions (e.g., 
insider abuse at any dollar amount).\10\
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    \10\ 12 CFR 748.1(c) (NCUA); 12 CFR 208.62 (FRB); 12 CFR 390.355 
(FDIC); 12 CFR 21.11, 163.80 (OCC).
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    The NCUA and FinCEN SAR regulations also provide: (i) That SARs are 
not required for a robbery or burglary committed or attempted that is 
reported to appropriate law enforcement authorities; (ii) that SARs are 
confidential and shall not be disclosed except as authorized; (iii) 
recordkeeping requirements for SARs and supporting documentation; (iv) 
that supporting documentation shall be deemed to have been filed with 
the SAR; and (v) that supporting documentation shall be made available 
to appropriate law enforcement agencies upon request. The NCUA and 
FinCEN SAR regulations also provide a safe harbor from liability to any 
FICU and any of its officials, employees, or agents that make a 
voluntary disclosure of any possible violation of law or regulation to 
a government agency or file a SAR pursuant to the regulations or any 
other authority. The NCUA's regulation also contains a provision 
requiring that FICUs promptly notify their board of directors or 
committee designated by the board of directors to receive such 
notifications when a SAR has been filed.
    FinCEN has general authority to grant exemptions from the 
requirements of the BSA, which includes granting exemptions under its 
SAR reporting regulations.\11\ FinCEN's regulation provides that 
``[t]he Secretary [of Treasury], in his sole discretion, may by written 
order or authorization make exceptions to or grant exemptions from the 
requirements of [the BSA]. Such exemptions may be conditional or 
unconditional, may apply to particular persons or to classes of 
persons, and may apply to transactions or classes of transactions.'' 
The Secretary has delegated this exemption authority to FinCEN.\12\
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    \11\ See 31 U.S.C. 5318(a)(7), with implementing regulations at 
31 CFR 1010.970.
    \12\ Treas. Order 180-01, (re-affirmed Jan. 14, 2020).
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    As financial technology and innovation continue to develop in the 
area of monitoring and reporting financial crime and terrorist 
financing, the NCUA will need the express regulatory flexibility to 
grant exemptive relief when appropriate in this area on a consistent 
basis. In 2018, the NCUA, FinCEN, and the other federal banking 
agencies issued a statement encouraging financial institutions to take 
innovative approaches to meet their BSA/anti-money laundering (BSA/AML) 
compliance obligations.\13\ That statement explained that financial 
institutions are encouraged to consider, evaluate, and where 
appropriate, responsibly implement innovative approaches in this area. 
Today, innovative approaches and technological developments in the 
areas of SAR monitoring, investigation and filings may involve, among 
other things: (i) Automated form population using natural language 
processing, transaction data, and customer due diligence information; 
(ii) automated or limited investigation processes depending on the 
complexity and risk of a particular transaction and appropriate 
safeguards; and (iii) enhanced monitoring processes using more and 
better data, optical scanning, artificial intelligence, or machine 
learning capabilities. Requests for exemptive relief pertaining to 
innovation or other matters may involve, among other things, expanded 
investigations and SAR timing issues, SAR disclosures and sharing, 
continued SAR filings for ongoing activity, SAR outsourcing of 
responsibilities and practices, the role of agents of FICUs, the use of 
shared utilities and shared data, and the use and sharing of de-
identified data. The NCUA expects that new technologies will continue 
to prompt additional innovative approaches related to SAR filing and 
monitoring.
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    \13\ Joint Statement on Innovative Efforts to Combat Money 
Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Dec. 3, 2018), available at 
https://www.ncua.gov/newsroom/press-release/2018/agencies-issue-joint-statement-encourage-innovative-approaches-bsaaml-compliance.
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    It is important to recognize that any NCUA-issued exemptions from 
its SAR regulation would not relieve the FICU from independent 
obligation to comply with FinCEN's SAR regulations, if applicable. To 
the extent an exemption request from a FICU involves both the NCUA's 
SAR regulation and FinCEN's SAR regulation, the FICU would need an 
exemption from both the NCUA and FinCEN. The NCUA expects to coordinate 
with FinCEN when handling parallel exemptions. As explained above, 
however, the NCUA's SAR regulation imposes additional requirements not 
included in FinCEN's SAR regulation. To the extent an exemption request 
is subject to a requirement imposed by the NCUA's SAR regulation alone 
(and not a parallel

[[Page 6588]]

FinCEN requirement), the proposed rule would allow the NCUA to exempt a 
FICU from that requirement.

III. The Proposal

    This proposed rule would allow the NCUA to issue exemptions from 
the requirements of its SAR regulation. Specifically, the proposed rule 
would add a provision to 12 CFR 748.1 that would provide that the NCUA 
may exempt a FICU from the requirements of that section. Under the 
proposed rule, the NCUA would determine whether the exemption is 
consistent with the purposes of the BSA, if applicable, and with safe 
and sound practices, and may consider other appropriate factors. The 
NCUA would also seek FinCEN's determination on whether the exemption 
would be consistent with the purposes of the BSA. The exemptions may be 
conditional or unconditional, may apply to particular persons or to 
classes of persons, and may apply to transactions or classes of 
transactions.
    In addition, this proposal would require the NCUA to seek FinCEN's 
concurrence regarding any exemption requests that involve an exemption 
from the requirement to file a SAR required by FinCEN regulations 
implementing the BSA. The proposal would also permit the NCUA to 
consult with FinCEN regarding other exemption requests. The NCUA may 
also consult with the other state and federal banking agencies before 
granting any exemption.
    Finally, the proposed rule provides that the NCUA may grant an 
exemption for a specified time period. Under the proposed rule, the 
NCUA could also revoke previously granted exemptions if circumstances 
change related to the factors set out above (consistency with the BSA 
and safety and soundness) or any imposed conditions.
    If the NCUA adopts this proposed rule and uses it to grant 
exemptions, such exemptions would not relieve a FICU from the 
obligation to comply with FinCEN's SAR regulation, if applicable. To 
the extent a FICU is subject to requirements imposed by both the NCUA's 
SAR regulation and FinCEN's SAR regulation, the FICU would need to seek 
an exemption from both the NCUA and FinCEN. As explained above, 
however, the NCUA's SAR regulation imposes additional requirements not 
included in FinCEN's regulation. To the extent a FICU is subject to a 
requirement imposed by the NCUA's SAR regulation alone (and not a 
parallel FinCEN requirement), the proposed rule would allow the NCUA to 
exempt a FICU from that requirement.
    The Board is providing for a 30-day comment period instead of a 60-
day comment period because the proposed rule is limited in scope, and 
the Board believes that 30 days will provide the public adequate time 
to review and comment on it.\14\
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    \14\ See NCUA Interpretive Ruling and Policy Statement (IRPS) 
87-2, as amended by IRPS 03-2 and IRPS 15-1. 80 FR 57512 (Sept. 24, 
2015), available at https://www.ncua.gov/files/publications/irps/IRPS1987-2.pdf.
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    The Board invites comments on the proposed rule, including whether 
any additional detail relating to the procedures that would be followed 
in considering, granting or revoking exemptions is necessary. The Board 
is also specifically requesting comments on whether additional or 
different factors or standards should be applied in the determination 
whether to grant an exemption request, as well as the form and manner 
of the Board's response to an exemption request.

IV. Regulatory Procedures

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) generally requires that, in 
connection with a notice of proposed rulemaking, an agency prepare and 
make available for public comment an initial regulatory flexibility 
analysis that describes the impact of a proposed rule on small entities 
(defined for purposes of the RFA to include credit unions with assets 
less than $100 million).\15\ A regulatory flexibility analysis is not 
required, however, if the agency certifies that the rule will not have 
a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities 
and publishes its certification and a short, explanatory statement in 
the Federal Register together with the rule.
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    \15\ See NCUA Interpretive Ruling and Policy Statement 87-2, as 
amended by IRPS 03-2 and IRPS 15-1, 80 FR 57512 (Sept. 24, 2015).
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    The proposed rule would allow FICUs to request exemptions from 
certain regulatory requirements if they choose to do so. As a result, 
it would not cause any increased burden or impose any new requirements 
on FICUs. Accordingly, the NCUA certifies that the proposed rule would 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
credit unions.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) applies to information 
collection requirements in which an agency creates a new paperwork 
burden on regulated entities or modifies an existing burden. For 
purposes of the PRA, a paperwork burden may take the form of a 
reporting, recordkeeping, or third-party disclosure requirement, each 
referred to as an information collection. The NCUA may not conduct or 
sponsor, and the respondent is not required to respond to, an 
information collection unless it displays a currently valid Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) control number.
    This proposed rule adds a provision to Sec.  748.1(c) that would 
allow FICUs to submit a written request to NCUA if it wishes to seek an 
exemption from the requirements of this section. There are 2,932 FICUs 
that currently file SARs annually. It is estimated that 50 of these 
FICUs would file for an exemption under the proposed new Sec.  
748.1(c)(7); taking 2 hours per response, for a total increase of 100 
burden hours. This proposed rule would revise the information 
collection requirement currently approved under OMB number 3133-0094, 
as follows:
    Title of Information Collection: Suspicious Activity Report by 
Depository Institutions.
    OMB Control Number: 3133-0094.
    Estimated Number of Respondents: 2,932.
    Estimated Annual Frequency of Response: 65.
    Estimated Total Annual Reponses: 191,069.
    Estimated Hours per Response: 1.
    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 191,119.
    Affected Public: Private Sector: Not-for-profit institutions.
    The NCUA invites comments on: (a) Whether the collections of 
information are necessary for the proper performance of the agencies' 
functions, including whether the information has practical utility; (b) 
the accuracy of the estimates of the burden of the information 
collections, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions 
used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the 
information to be collected; (d) ways to minimize the burden of the 
information collections on respondents, including through the use of 
automated collection techniques or other forms of information 
technology; and (e) estimates of capital or start-up costs and costs of 
operation, maintenance, and purchase of services to provide 
information.
    All comments are a matter of public record. Due to the limited in-
house staff, email comments are preferred. Comments regarding the 
information collection requirements of this rule should be (1) emailed 
to: [email protected] with ``OMB No. 3133-0094'' in the subject 
line; faxed to 703-837-2406, or mailed to Mackie Malaka, NCUA PRA 
Clearance Officer, National Credit Union Administration, 1775 Duke 
Street, Suite

[[Page 6589]]

5080, Alexandria, Virginia 22314 and to the (2) Office of Information 
and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, at 
www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain. Select ``Currently under 30-day 
Review--Open for Public Comments'' or by using the search function.

Executive Order 13132

    Executive Order 13132 encourages independent regulatory agencies to 
consider the impact of their actions on state and local interests. In 
adherence to fundamental federalism principles, the NCUA, an 
independent regulatory agency as defined in 44 U.S.C. 3502(5), 
voluntarily complies with the principles of the executive order. This 
rulemaking will not have a substantial direct effect on the states, on 
the connection between the national government and the states, or on 
the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels 
of government. The NCUA has determined that this proposal does not 
constitute a policy that has federalism implications for purposes of 
the executive order.

Assessment of Federal Regulations and Policies on Families

    The NCUA has determined that this proposed rule will not affect 
family well-being within the meaning of section 654 of the Treasury and 
General Government Appropriations Act, 1999, Public Law 105-277, 112 
Stat. 2681 (1998).

List of Subjects in 12 CFR Part 748

    Security program, report of suspected crimes, suspicious 
transactions, catastrophic acts and Bank Secrecy Act compliance.

    By the National Credit Union Administration Board on December 
17, 2020.
Melane Conyers-Ausbrooks,
Secretary of the Board.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Board proposes to 
amend 12 CFR part 748, as follows:

PART 748--SECURITY PROGRAM, REPORT OF SUSPECTED CRIMES, SUSPICIOUS 
TRANSACTIONS, CATASTROPHIC ACTS AND BANK SECRECY ACT COMPLIANCE

0
1. The authority citation for part 748 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 12 U.S.C. 1766(a), 1786(q); 15 U.S.C. 6801-6809; 31 
U.S.C. 5311 and 5318.

0
2. Amend Sec.  748.1 by adding new paragraph (c)(7) to read as follows:


Sec.  748.1  Filing of reports.

* * * * *
    (c) Suspicious Activity Report. * * *
    (7) Exemptions.
    (i) The NCUA may exempt any federally insured credit union from the 
requirements of paragraph (c) of this section. Upon receiving a written 
request from a federally insured credit union, the NCUA will determine 
whether the exemption is consistent with safe and sound practices, and 
may consider other appropriate factors. The NCUA will also seek 
FinCEN's determination whether the exemption is consistent with the 
purposes of the BSA, if applicable. The exemption shall be applicable 
only as expressly stated in the exemption, may be conditional or 
unconditional, may apply to particular persons or to classes of 
persons, and may apply to transactions or classes of transactions. The 
NCUA will seek FinCEN's concurrence with regard to any exemption 
request that would also require an exemption from the requirements of 
FinCEN's SAR regulations, and may consult with FinCEN regarding other 
exemption requests. The NCUA also may consult with the other state and 
federal banking agencies and consider comments before granting any 
exemption.
    (ii) The NCUA will provide a written response to the federally 
insured credit union that submitted the exemption request after 
considering whether the exemption is consistent with safe and sound 
banking, consulting with the appropriate agencies, and seeking 
concurrence when appropriate. A federally insured credit union that has 
received an exemption under paragraph (i) of this section may rely on 
the exemption for a period of time to be communicated by the NCUA in 
its granting of the exemption, which may indefinite. The NCUA may 
extend the period of time or may revoke an exemption granted under 
paragraph (i) of this section. Exemptions may be revoked at the sole 
discretion of the NCUA. The NCUA will provide written notice to the 
federally insured credit union of the NCUA's intention to revoke an 
exemption. Such notice will include the basis for the revocation and 
will provide an opportunity for the federally insured credit union to 
submit a response to the NCUA. The NCUA will consider the credit 
union's response prior to deciding whether to revoke an exemption and 
will notify the federally insured credit union of the NCUA's decision 
to revoke an exemption in writing.
[FR Doc. 2021-00048 Filed 1-21-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7535-01-P