Q: Has FinCEN issued guidance related to handling BSA obligations in response to the Coronavirus pandemic?
A: Yes. On April 3, 2020, FinCEN’s issuance “The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network Provides Further Information to Financial Institutions in Response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic,” addressed a variety of BSA-related issues. At a high level, the issuance addressed compliance as follows:
“Compliance with BSA Obligations
Compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) remains crucial to protecting our national security by combating money laundering and related crimes, including terrorism and its financing. FinCEN expects financial institutions to continue following a risk-based approach, and to diligently adhere to their BSA obligations. FinCEN also appreciates that financial institutions are taking actions to protect employees, their families, and others in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created challenges in meeting certain BSA obligations, including the timing requirements for certain BSA report filings. FinCEN will continue outreach to regulatory partners and financial institutions to ensure risk-based compliance with the BSA, and FinCEN will issue additional new information as appropriate.”
Another section of the issuance relates to CTR reporting and also suspends implementation of their February 6, 2020 ruling related to CTR reporting involving sole proprietorships and entities operating under a DBA until further notice, as follows:
“BSA Reporting Obligations & Updates to Currency Transaction Report (CTR) Filing Obligations
FinCEN has heard from certain financial institutions and trade associations for financial institutions about difficulties in meeting certain BSA obligations, including the timing requirements for certain BSA report filings. In response to concerns regarding certain timing requirements of BSA filings, FinCEN recognizes that certain regulatory timing requirements with regard to BSA filings may be challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic and that there may be some reasonable delays in compliance.
FinCEN hereby suspends implementation of the February 6, 2020 ruling (FIN-2020-R001) on CTR filing obligations when reporting transactions involving sole proprietorships and entities operating under a “doing business as” (DBA) name (the “2020 Ruling”) until further notice. FinCEN will issue further information on these types of CTR filings at an appropriate time with reasonable implementation periods. Until such issuance, financial institutions should continue to report transactions involving sole proprietorships and DBAs under prior practice. Those financial institutions that have already made the necessary changes to comply with the 2020 Ruling need not revert to prior practice, and may report CTRs in accordance with the now-suspended ruling.”