What Does Anti-Money Laundering Have to Do with My Company?
Is your business fully compliant with Federal AML Regulations and the USA Patriot Act? If not, your business is at serious financial risk.
Section 352 of the USA Patriot Act requires the use of AML Programs across virtually the entire financial-services industry, including cash-intensive, “high-risk” businesses, such as coin dealers, pawn shops, etc. To be compliant, you are required to establish an AML program and have it independently audited/reviewed. If your business is not in compliance, the future of your company and your livelihood may be in jeopardy.
On many, many occasions over the years, the National Coin & Bullion Association has reported on various aspects of AML programs and how our members handle them. Most NCBA members have their AML plans prepared, and many have them audited annually. However, many dealers are surprised when their bank notifies them that they have two weeks to produce their most recent annual AML audit report or their bank account will be closed. Just having an AML plan does not make you compliant; that is only one of the four minimum requirements. To be compliant, your AML program must meet four criteria:
- Your AML plan must be written;
- AML policies and procedures must be fully implemented in your business;
- Employees must receive AML training; and
- There must be an independent audit of the AML program yearly.
The same applies for AML programs that have been requested and enforced by PayPal. As NCBA has reported, PayPal has been extremely proactive with freezing members’ accounts until they can produce their AML programs, including the most recent audit reports, the same as your bank would require. Financial institutions must have on file the AML plan and an independent audit report for those customers who are required to comply; otherwise, banks face heavy fines or penalties by their regulators and/or FinCEN—and those penalties could be steep.
On December 15, 2016, Bethex Federal Credit Union was penalized $500,000 for not having an adequate AML program and/or for failures in their program. Since the beginning of 2017, Western Union Financial Services has been penalized $184 million for failures in their AML program, and in February 2021, Merchants Bank of California was penalized $7 million for violating their program’s recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Not only banks suffer these penalties; in 2015 B.A.K. Precious Metals was penalized $200,000 for not having an adequate AML program.
Not being compliant when required could financially destroy you and your business. Becoming compliant is much cheaper, and you can sleep at night knowing that if you get a call or a letter, you are prepared to contact your AML specialist or AML auditor.
There are several AML resources for members on our website:
- Anti-Money Laundering
- AML Compliance Plan Information
- AML/Patriot Act Seminar Recap
- Application of FinCEN’s Regulations to Persons Issuing Physical or Digital Negotiable Certificates of Ownership of Precious Metals
- Memo: Questionnaires Concerning $50,000 Threshold Rule
- Steps to Conducting an Independent Audit of Your AML Plan