On March 4, 2020, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the US Treasury Department imposed a $450,000 civil money penalty against the former chief operational risk officer at US Bank National Association (US Bank), for his alleged role in failing to prevent violations of US anti-money laundering (AML) laws and regulations that occurred during his tenure.
FinCEN’s unprecedented individual enforcement action is the latest sign that US AML regulators intend to hold individual executives accountable for their roles in financial institutions’ violations of law. It serves as a reminder of the importance of strengthening compliance programs in order to minimize the likelihood of findings of individual liability. Meanwhile, authorities outside the United States, including in the UK, are increasingly focused on AML failings and individuals potentially liable for those failings.
We offer four compliance takeaways from FinCEN’s enforcement action: (1) compliance teams must be appropriately staffed; (2) technology must be appropriately calibrated to detect suspicious activity; (3) internal warnings must be escalated; and (4) regulators expect that compliance officers will take heed from others’ enforcement cases.