FinCEN Signals It Will Move ahead With No-Action Letter Rulemaking

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network today signaled that it intends to move ahead with a rulemaking to establish a no-action letter process. In a consultation report required by the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, FinCEN noted that “such a process could be a useful complement to existing forms of regulatory guidance and relief.” The report incorporated feedback from the Attorney General, the federal functional regulators, state bank and credit union supervisors and other federal agencies.

“The primary benefits identified by those in favor of a no-action letter process are that it could promote a robust and productive dialogue with the public, spur innovation among financial institutions, and enhance the culture of compliance and transparency in the application and enforcement of the [Bank Secrecy Act],” the report noted. The report also concluded that a “cross-regulator no-action letter process”—in which FinCEN issues no-action letters that apply to FinCEN and other regulators — “would present legal and practical challenges.”

As it looks to establish a no-action letter process, FinCEN added that it would be “mindful of the complexities that may arise, particularly when another regulator or agency may have relevant equities or interest” and that “[a]ny requests for no-action relief would need to be carefully reviewed in consultation with other regulators.” FinCEN also cautioned that it would need “additional resources” to process no-action letter requests within a reasonable timeframe.