July 8, 2022

OCC announces BSA AML joint statement issued on risk-based approach to customer relationship and due diligence

On July 6, 2022, the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) announced that it issued a joint statement in collaboration with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the National Credit Union Administration, as a reminder to banks of the importance of using a risk-based approach to assess customer relationships and conduct customer due diligence (CDD).  It is important to note that the joint statement in no way alters existing Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) legal or regulatory requirements and does not establish new supervisory expectations.

In the joint statement, the agencies reiterate their longstanding position that “no customer type presents a single level of uniform risk or a particular risk profile related to money laundering, terrorist financing or other illicit financial activity.”  For this reason, it is necessary for banks to conduct ongoing CDD that enables them to i) understand the nature and purpose of customer relationships to develop customer risk profiles, and ii) conduct ongoing monitoring in order to identify and report suspicious transactions, and, based on the risk posed, maintain and update customer information.

According to the joint statement, the agencies would rather encourage banks to effectively manage and mitigate risks based the unique characteristics of their customer relationships than have them decline banking services to entire categories of customers.  The agencies also emphasize that they do not prohibit or discourage banks from providing banking services to customers of any specific class or type.

Finally, the agencies also indicate that this statement applies to all customer types referenced in the Federal Financial Institution Examination Council (FFIEC) Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering Examination Manual but stress that the scope of the statement is not limited to the customer types specifically addressed in the manual.

OCC Press Release | Joint Statement