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FinCEN Floats Long-Awaited AML Rule for Advisors

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The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network proposed Tuesday a long-awaited rule requiring certain investment advisors to establish anti-money laundering programs and report suspicious activity to FinCEN pursuant to the Bank Secrecy Act.

The Treasury Department’s FinCEN also proposed to include investment advisors in the general definition of “financial institution,” which, among other things, would require them to file Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs) and keep records relating to the transmittal of funds.

The proposal would apply those advisors registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including advisors to certain hedge funds, private equity funds, and other private funds.

FinCEN says it would delegate its authority to examine advisors for compliance with these requirements to the SEC.

“Investment advisors are on the front lines of a multi-trillion dollar sector of our financial system,” said Jennifer Shasky Calvery, FinCEN’s director, in a press release announcing the proposal. “If a client is trying to move or stash dirty money, we need investment advisors to be vigilant in protecting the integrity of their sector.”

The proposed rule addresses money laundering vulnerabilities in the U.S. financial system.

As FinCEN states, “Illicit actors seeking to access the financial system may attempt to gain such access through an investment advisor as a means to avoid detection of their activity which might otherwise occur in dealings with financial institutions that have AML programs and suspicious activity reporting requirements.”

Requiring investment advisors to establish AML programs and file reports of suspicious activity would bring them under similar regulations as other financial institutions subject to the BSA, such as mutual funds, broker-dealers in securities, banks, and insurance companies, FinCEN states.

Advisors should be required to file CTRs and comply with the recordkeeping requirements of the BSA so as to “also deter illicit actors from using them as conduits,” FinCEN says.

The proposed rule will be out for a 60-day comment period.


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