The stakes have never been higher for financial institutions whose anti-money laundering (AML) and sanctions compliance measures are being closely monitored. Recent Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and sanctions-related enforcement actions taken by state and federal regulators demonstrate the risk of substantial civil and criminal penalties due to an institution’s failure to quickly and effectively address compliance violations or deficiencies.
With more than a third of BSA/AML and sanctions-related penalties routinely exceeding 10 percent of a defendant institution’s total capital, it’s critical to have legal counsel who know how to navigate and resolve these issues.
At Manatt, we have significant knowledge of recent enforcement actions taken by state and federal regulators and have maintained strong relationships within these agencies to inform and tailor client responses. We jump in when a regulator identifies a problem with an institution’s or individual’s actions to help mitigate the consequences of a major fine or criminal investigation.
Beginning with our founding by two banking lawyers in 1965, Manatt has decades of deep experience in a broad array of banking and financial services area. We’ve worked with leading global financial institutions and have one of the largest and most comprehensive financial services practices in the United States.
With a team of former federal and state prosecutors—including a former U.S. attorney—we work alongside our investigations and white collar defense practice and have an impressive record defending companies and senior executives in high-profile investigations and prosecutions.
What we do
We handle complex and novel issues arising under the statutes and regulations governing the financial services industry, including sensitive BSA/AML and sanctions enforcement matters before all agencies of the U.S. Treasury Department, the U.S. Department of Justice or state regulatory agencies.
With experience working investigations in a full range of banking and lending issues, we support financial institutions faced with bet-the-company enforcement actions. We also represent institutions’ officers, directors and compliance professionals who have come under agency focus in an increasingly challenging policy environment demanding individual accountability for institutional compliance failures. We strive to keep senior leaders at major financial services firms informed and protected.
Finally, we understand the value of preparation. We are committed to proactively educating financial institutions about compliance issues and provide strategic counsel, examination preparation and analysis, and tailored programs for boards and executive management as they migrate their way through these complex issues.
AML/BSA Enforcement Experience
Our AML/BSA enforcement experience includes representing:
- One of the largest independent banks headquartered in California in a criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney General, the FBI and the IRS into that bank’s AML/BSA compliance program.
- A former AML director at a large U.S. bank in connection with an investigation by Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency into possible BSA violations due to an allegedly inadequate AML program.
- A global network-affiliated payment card program in connection with defending its international prepaid card program manager and national bank card issuer, in formal enforcement proceedings brought by the FDIC concerning alleged BSA violations stemming from allegedly inadequate AML controls.
- A foreign financial institution in a U.S. Department of Justice offshore tax compliance investigation.
- The board of directors of a California-chartered bank regarding an internal investigation of AML compliance. Prompting the investigation was a consent order issued against the bank, criticizing its AML compliance program. We presented a series of reports to the board and the bank’s regulators, and served as counsel to the board in connection with several federal investigations.
Office of Foreign Assets Control/U.S. Sanctions Enforcement Experience
Our OFAC/U.S. sanctions experience includes representing:
- A foreign-owned and -controlled commercial bank in connection with a petition to the Office of Foreign Assets Control to delist the bank from the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List.
AML/BSA and Related Regulatory Experience
Our AML/BSA and related regulatory experience includes representing:
- A U.S. money-center bank on BSA/AML issues in connection with its commercial card and B2B payments programs, including providing advice on new rules related to due diligence on beneficial owners, and questions related to “nested” relationships.
- A major money-center bank in connection with providing ongoing compliance advice on diverse BSA questions, such as new procedures for due diligence on beneficial owners of accounts, and AML requirements for newly developed commercial lending and card programs.
- A nonbank seeking to establish a limited-purpose bank or money transmitter business to service the cannabis industry, in connection with providing advice on SAR reporting requirements and civil penalties and enforcement questions under the BSA.
- A company that acts as a third-party service provider to a bank in connection with providing general advice on BSA questions and assisting in the establishment of an AML compliance program that meets the bank’s standards for compliance. We are also assisting in the selection of a vendor to test the program.
- A U.K.-based financial services business on BSA issues related to money transfers through U.S. correspondent banks, and reviewing and revising its AML and OFAC policies and procedures.
- Multiple depository institutions on traditional lending, deposit taking and consumer credit laws, such as under the Truth in Lending Act, the CARD Act, the Electronic Fund Transfers Act (and NACHA rules), the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.