FBME Bank and FinCEN in Discussions

23 January 2015

On 21 January, a meeting was held in Washington DC between FBME Bank representatives and the US Department of the Treasury’s FinCEN bureau. The purpose was to discuss further the FinCEN Notice of Finding (NOF) and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), published in the Federal Register on 22 July 2014, and FBME Bank’s response to the concerns outlined in the Notices.

The FBME Bank response, which ran to hundreds of pages of study, reports and documentation, resulted in large part from an exhaustive forensic investigation conducted by EY (Ernst and Young) and international law firm Hogan Lovells. The Public Comment, produced by Hogan Lovells in September, is available here.

Hogan Lovells investigated and provided a detailed response to the specific concerns outlined by FinCEN in its Notices.  The response contains information about FBME’s commitment to complying with all requests of its home supervisor the Bank of Tanzania, its host supervisor for its branch in Cyprus, the Central Bank of Cyprus, and the US financial and regulatory authorities.

For its part, EY carried out a thorough and independent investigation of FBME Bank and its anti-money laundering policies and operational procedures and practices, and specific transactions referenced in FinCEN’s Notice of Findings.  As EY found in its assessments, “FBME’s AML (anti-money laundering) policies are in line with the applicable requirements of the (EU and Central Bank of Cyprus) Directives”.

However, Hogan Lovells and EY made recommendations in some areas where FBME’s compliance programme could be improved and the meeting provided an opportunity to report FBME Bank’s implementation of these recommendations. In addition, Hogan Lovell’s and EY’s investigation demonstrated that many allegations in the Notice of Findings are factually incorrect, omit relevant information, do not take into account corrective actions taken by FBME, or are generalized statements about risks that have been mitigated by enhanced compliance measures. On this basis, FBME Bank has respectfully requested that the Notice and NPRM be withdrawn and maintains that the investigations show it did nothing wrong.

FBME Bank welcomed this opportunity to continue its exchange of information with FinCEN and confirms its willingness to work in cooperation with FinCEN, so that FBME and its customers can return to their legitimate business activities as soon as possible.