The U.S. Treasury is taking a fresh look at requiring investment advisers to meet the same standards as banks and broker-dealers, including potentially subjecting investment advisers to the BSA/AML compliance and reporting requirements that apply to other types of financial institutions. 
Continue Reading U.S. Treasury Renews Focus on AML Risks for Investment Advisors

On April 14, 2022, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an advisory focusing on detecting kleptocrats (i.e., government officials who appropriate national resources for personal gain) and the proceeds of foreign public corruption and preventing them from entering the U.S. financial system. This guidance is the latest in a series of advisories FinCEN has issued focusing on Russian kleptocracy, and is part of a broader strategic initiative among key U.S. and global law enforcement and regulatory agencies focusing on corruption and money laundering as critical national security risks. In particular, the advisory highlights the enhanced focus of U.S. enforcement resources on the attempts of Russian oligarchs to evade sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

U.S. law enforcement and regulatory agencies have high expectations as to the compliance efforts U.S. companies will adopt to meet this moment. Enforcement against companies and individuals involved in missteps is likely to be aggressive and robustly resourced. Indeed, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on April 6, 2022, in connection with the unsealing of an indictment of a Russian oligarch charged with U.S. sanctions violations, that it will “work relentlessly to counter Russian aggression, including by enforcing U.S. sanctions law.”
Continue Reading As Russia Sanctions Mount, FinCEN Issues Advisory on Kleptocracy and Foreign Public Corruption

Through a series of recent public comments, top leadership from the Consumer Financial Protection Board (“CFPB”) is warning that the agency is poised to play an increasingly affirmative role in the oversight of new payments systems, including the technologies and technology companies involved. First, CFPB Director Rohit Chopra told federal lawmakers that “the desire of Big Tech to gain greater control over the flow of money in the economy raises a number of questions.” Director Chopra’s comments make clear that his agency is stepping up its regulatory scrutiny of large technology firms as well as more traditional participants in the consumer finance industry, such as banks and mortgage companies. Just days later, Director Chopra issued a statement reiterating his concerns about the role of large technology companies in consumer finance and further declaring that the CFPB is “actively monitoring” and preparing for a broader consumer adoption of cryptocurrencies. Commenting specifically on the Report on Stablecoins issued by the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Director Chopra stated that the use cases for stablecoins in retail payments, consumer deposits, stored value instruments, and others “trigger obligations under federal consumer financial protection laws,” including the prohibition of unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices. These comments and others by the CFPB lead many to conclude that a more aggressive enforcement approach across industries is likely to follow.

As a starting point, Director Chopra indicated that the CFPB is examining the following questions regarding tech firms’ role in real-time consumer payments:

  • How will these firms harvest and monetize data they collect on consumer transactions?
  • What criteria will the firms use to decide who is removed from the platform?
  • How will they ensure that payment systems adhere to consumer protections?
  • Will Big Tech giants have an incentive to impede the entry of new firms seeking to offer competitive products and services?


Continue Reading Consumer Protection Regulator Signals Increased Scrutiny of Payments Systems and Tech Companies