FinCEN Issues Statement on Bank Secrecy Act Reporting During Pandemic

Recognizing the operational challenges many banks are facing due to COVID-19, FinCEN today issued a statement regarding Banks’ Secrecy Act obligations during the pandemic. Included in the statement was a temporary suspension of a February 2020 ruling on currency transaction reporting requirements for reporting transactions involving sole proprietorships and entities operating under a “doing business as” name until further notice. Banks that have not yet made necessary changes to comply with the 2020 ruling should continue reporting these transactions based on prior practices, FinCEN said.

In addition, the statement addressed beneficial ownership reporting requirements for banks issuing loans under the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. FinCEN clarified that banks will not be required to re-verify beneficial ownership information for PPP loans made to existing customers “unless otherwise indicated by the institution’s risk-based approach to BSA compliance.” It also reminded banks of a 2018 ruling providing certain exceptive relief from the beneficial ownership rule, and noted that it would “continue to asses reasonable risk-based approaches to BSA obligations and will issue further information, as appropriate, particularly as the CARES Act is implemented.”

As the pandemic continues, FinCEN encouraged banks to communicate with their functional regulators if they have BSA compliance concerns. FinCEN has also created an online mechanism for banks to submit COVID-19 related concerns related their BSA obligations.