UNITED STATES FINANCIAL CRIMES ENFORCEMENT NETWORK (FinCEN) ISSUES NEW GUIDANCE FOR
New Guidance May Impact
Retailers’ Compliance Obligations
New York City — March 11, 2008 — At the Jewelers Vigilance Committee’s (JVC) ongoing anti-money laundering (AML) seminar series: "Anti-Money Laundering Update: What's Next and What You Need To Know," James H. Freis, Jr. Director, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), issued the first additional guidance for the jewelry industry clarifying the risk assessment to be performed by dealers in precious metals, precious stones and jewels. The guidance will help retailers identify certain jurisdictional characteristics that would impact their exposure to risk. This guidance does not impose any additional requirements on dealers, but rather provides information that dealers may want to consider when conducting their risk assessment.
U.S. Dealers’ Risk Assessment
Director Freis explained that in certain circumstances the risks of money laundering associated with purchases from a foreign source may not be greater than those associated with a domestic supplier and stressed retailers review the following factors among a longer list of possible risk factors:
1. The nature and scope of the regulatory efforts of the supplier’s jurisdiction to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing in its precious metals, precious stones, and jewels industry.
2. The nature and scope of the regulatory efforts of the supplier’s jurisdiction to prevent money launderers’ and terrorist financers’ entrance into, or exploitation of, the industry.
3. The dealer’s relationship with the supplier.If US dealers determine that their foreign suppliers have implemented AML controls sufficiently to mitigate risks associated with money laundering, compliance, their monitoring of purchases can be minimal.
Said Cecilia Gardner, JVC’s president, CEO, general counsel: “The new guidance clarifies the requirement that has been in place since June 2005. Retailers should insure that their foreign sources of supply are themselves complying with their AML obligations. The new guidance still requires a retailer who purchases from foreign suppliers (even if they comply with the AML requirements of their home jurisdiction) to have an AML program for those purchases. As a result, retailers’ AML programs may be less extensive than originally developed -- or very extensive – depending on their exposure to risk JVC continues to work with FinCEN to provide guidance in AML compliance to the jewelry industry.”
Identifying Suspicious Transactions
Involving a Foreign Supplier and
Filing Suspicious Activity Reports
Director Freis stressed the need for dealers to develop procedures to make reasonable inquiries to determine whether a transaction involves money laundering. The rule does not differentiate between domestic and foreign suppliers. Examples include whether the transaction involves the use of unusual payment methods, such as the use of a large amount of cash, multiple money orders, traveler’s checks or payments from third parties. He added that jewelry dealers are not required to file suspicious activity reports but are encouraged to do so voluntarily. To date, FinCEN has seen very few Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) filed by the jewelry industry under the voluntary filing provision of the Interim Final Rule.
If you are a retailer and have questions about whether to comply, call JVC, 212-997-2002.For more information about JVC’s free legal compliance seminars, education programs, jewelers’ anti-money laundering responsibilities and JVC products and services, visit: www.jvclegal.org.
Jewelers Vigilance Committee, founded in 1917, is a not-for-profit legal trade association fulfilling its mission to maintain the jewelry industry’s highest ethical standards. JVC offers dispute mediation and arbitration services for trade and consumers, compliance monitoring and precious metals testing, among many other services. JVC, long considered the industry’s guardian of ethics and integrity, is a resource for the entire jewelry industry and its customers as well as an industry representative before government agencies, media and adjunct fields. For more information visit: www.jvclegal.org.