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Full reference: Frison-Roche, M.-A., Compliance & Regulatory Soft Law, legal Certainty and Cooperation: example of the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network new Guidelines on AML/FT, Newsletter MAFR - Law, Compliance, Regulation, 2nd of September 2020
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Summary of the news
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is an organ, depending on the American Treasury, in charge of fighting against financial criminality and especially against money laundering and terrorism financing. For this, it has large control and sanction powers.
In August 2020, the FinCEN published a document untitled "Statement on Enforcement" which aimed to explicit its control and sanction methods. It reveals what firms risk in case of offense (from the simple warning letter to criminal pursuits passing through financial fines) and the different criteria on which FinCEN is based to use one sanction rather than another. Among these criteria, we find for examples the nature and the seriousness of committed violations or the firm's history but also the implementation of compliance program or the quality and the spread of the cooperation with FinCEN durning the investigation.
One of the objectives of the publication of such an information document is to obtain the cooperation of firms by creating a confidence relationship between the regulator and the regulated firm. However, it is very difficult to ask to the firms to cooperate and to furnish information if they can fear that this same information can be used later as proof against them by the FinCEN.
Another objective is to reinforce legal security and transparency. However, the FinCEN's declaration does not seem to commit it, because it is not presented as a chart but as a simple declaration. Indeed, the list of the possible sanctions and the criteria used by the FinCEN are far from being exhaustive and can be completed in concreto by the FinCEN without any justification.