WASHINGTON (8/13/14)--There are currently 105 banks and credit unions serving legal, marijuana-based businesses, according to suspicious activity reports (SARs) received by the U.S. Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery addressed the topic during the Atlantic Anti-Money Laundering Conference Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
"Since FinCEN's (marijuana-based business) guidance went into effect in February of this year, we have received more than 1,000 SARs that indicate banks are using our guidance and providing much needed transparency into their dealings with marijuana-related businesses," she said.
FinCEN released marijuana-based business guidance Feb. 14 to assist financial institutions in determining when and how to file a SAR based on eight law enforcement priorities identified by the U.S. Department of Justice.
"Our overarching goal in issuing this guidance was to promote financial transparency, ensuring law enforcement receives the reporting from financial institutions that it needs to police this activity and making it less likely that the financial operations move underground and become more difficult to track," she said.
Financial institutions dealing with marijuana businesses can use three different designations for marijuana-related business SARs:
- "Marijuana Limited," for financial institutions providing services to a marijuana-related business that can be reasonably believed is not violating one of the eight priorities or state law. FinCEN has received 502 SARs marked as Marijuana Limited;
- "Marijuana Priority," for financial institutions that believe, based on its customer due diligence, a marijuana-related business is violating one of the eight priorities or state law. To date, FinCEN has received 123 SARs indicating Marijuana Priority; and
- "Marijuana Termination," used if a financial institution deems it necessary to terminate a relationship with a marijuana-related business in order to maintain an effective AML compliance program. Just over 475 SARs filed to date have indicated "Marijuana Termination."
The numbers are based on SARs received by FinCEN from Feb. 14 and Aug. 8. Calvery said the number of marijuana-related SARs FinCEN has received is the "intended effect" of the guidance.
"It is facilitating access to financial services, while ensuring that this activity is transparent and the funds are going into regulated financial institutions responsible for implementing appropriate AML safeguards," she said.
Use the resource link below to access Calvery's full remarks.