The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (“FFIEC”) recently released the revised “Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) Examination Manual.” The revised Manual provides current guidance on risk-based policies, procedures, and processes for banking organizations to comply with the BSA and safeguard operations from money laundering and terrorist financing. The 2014 Manual also clarifies supervisory expectations and regulatory changes since the last update of the manual in 2010. An Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) Bulletin notes the areas where the revised Manual contains significant revisions.

An interagency statement attached to the OCC Bulletin discusses the revisions, which include clarifications regarding the monitoring and reporting obligations under the BSA for international transportation of currency or monetary instruments; additional guidance in the section on risk mitigation for correspondent accounts; and an expanded discussion of risk factors and risk mitigation related to prepaid access.

Separately, the OCC issued a Bulletin on the Comptroller’s “Statement on Risk Management Associated With Money Services Businesses.” The Bulletin notes that money services businesses (“MSBs”) present varying degrees of risk to an institution. “Not all MSBs should be considered high risk…. [T]he agency expects OCC- regulated banks to assess the risks posed by each MSB customer on a case-by-case basis and to implement appropriate controls to manage the relationship commensurate with the risks associated with each customer.”

Last month, David S. Cohen, Treasury Department Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, discussed recommendations for improving the AML regime. The existing statutory safe harbor from civil liability for filing a suspicious activity report (“SAR”) should be expanded so that financial institutions and their officers may enjoy the protection of the SAR safe harbor without having to demonstrate that a SAR was filed in good faith. He advocated that the Bank Secrecy Act should also be amended to clarify that financial institutions and their officers may enjoy the protection of the SAR safe harbor without having to demonstrate that a SAR was filed in good faith. Financial institutions should also be allowed to share information with one another on illicit activity. Cohen further noted the efforts being made to extend AML program and suspicious activity reporting requirements to investment advisors, retail foreign exchange dealers and commodity pool operators.