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Sarah Aberg is special counsel in the White Collar Defense and Corporate Investigations Group in the firm's New York office.

In an apparent follow up to President Biden’s March Executive Order on Digital Assets (which we previously discussed here), this week, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a similar executive order aiming to foster responsible innovation, bolster California’s innovation economy, and strengthen consumer protection through creating a transparent regulatory and business environment for Web3 companies.  Newsom’s executive order credits Biden’s executive order as paving the way for the assessment of key issues raised by crypto-assets and sets California on a path to harmonize its nascent crypto regulatory framework with forthcoming federal rules and guidelines and, hopefully, create regulatory clarity for businesses and consumers.
Continue Reading Governor Newsom Signs Blockchain Executive Order

In April, we continued to see a steady pace in the seriousness and frequency of crypto enforcement actions by state and federal law enforcement.  (See our March 2022 Crypto Enforcement Actions Roundup blog here where we discuss the regulatory guidance and jurisdiction of federal and state agencies to enforce these matters.)
Continue Reading April 2022 Crypto Enforcement Actions And Regulatory Guidance Roundup

On April 28, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) provided a “Virtual Currency Guidance” update.  The guidance is directed towards all virtual currency businesses licensed under 23 NYCRR Part 200 (the New York BitLicense) or limited purpose trust companies chartered under the New York Banking Law (collectively, “VC Entities”).”  The guidance mandates VC Entities to employ blockchain analytics to design and implement effective BSA/AML policies, processes, and procedures, including, for example, those relating to customer due diligence, transaction monitoring, and sanctions screening.
Continue Reading NYDFS Provides Guidance on the Use of Blockchain Analytics to Maintain Compliance

This January, Adrienne A. Harris was confirmed as superintendent of New York’s Department of Financial Services, which administers New York’s BitLicense program, among others.  In a March 28 interview, Harris discussed the BitLicense program in detail and addressed some of its longstanding issues, including its slow response times to applicants and updating some of the outdated regulatory and operational aspects of the program.
Continue Reading New York’s Superintendent of Financial Services Addresses BitLicense Delays

On March 17, the OCC and FinCEN issued civil monetary penalties against a federal savings bank for “willfully” failing to meet minimum compliance program requirements and shoddy suspicious transaction reporting. The consent orders read like a veritable “how not to” for reviewing anti-money laundering alerts.
Continue Reading OCC and FinCEN Issue $200 Million in Penalties for BSA-AML Violations

On February 4, the Department of the Treasury published a study on the facilitation of money laundering and terrorist financing through the art trade.  Among other considerations, the report discussed the risks of financial crimes in connection with NFTs.  (See a previous post on NFTs from our sister blog here and a recent podcast here).  The study found that the high-value art market has certain inherent qualities that make it potentially vulnerable to a range of financial crimes – as we noted above.  NFT purchasers, marketplaces, issuers, and other intermediaries in NFT transactions should be aware of the Treasury Departments’ interest in regulation and the potential for abuse through NFT transactions. This Treasury Department report is the latest in a series of studies and reports by federal regulatory agencies that aim to warn investors about the potential for abuse.
Continue Reading Treasury’s Study Discusses Financial Crimes and NFTs

On December 16, 2021, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) issued civil monetary penalties against a Texas community bank for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”).  The consent orders read like a veritable “how not to” for reviewing anti-money laundering alerts.

Continue Reading OCC and FinCEN Issue $9 Million in Penalties for BSA-AML Violations