OCC sets final rule on SAR exemption requests

A final rule issued Wednesday by the national bank regulator clarifies the agency’s authority to provide exemptions from its requirements on reporting of suspicious activity under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).

Wednesday’s final rule by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) brings the agency’s rules more in line with the exemption authority described in rules from Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) for filings of suspicious activity reports (SARs). The OCC said that the final rule, effective May 1, clarifies the OCC’s authority to issue exemptions from the requirements of those regulations based on a request from a national bank or federal savings association, including federal branches and agencies of foreign banks.

The OCC said its final rule contains some requirements that are not included in FinCEN’s SAR regulation, so for an exemption request involving OCC-only SAR requirements, a national bank or federal savings association will be required to seek an exemption only from the OCC; it if also requires an exemption from a FinCEN rule requirement, approval from both agencies will be required.

The OCC noted that while the proposed rule listed separate factors that the OCC would consider for exemptions involving OCC-only exemptions versus exemptions that would also require exemptions from FinCEN, the final rule provides a single set of factors that the OCC will consider for all exemption requests.

“Specifically, upon receipt of any exemption request, the OCC will consider whether the exemption is consistent with the purposes of the BSA and with safe and sound banking, and may consider other appropriate factors,” it stated.

OCC Issues Final Rule Addressing Authority for Exemptions to Suspicious Activity Report Requirements