Author Archives: Jonathan Ferguson

What Did Rabobank Do to Deserve a $50 Million Penalty?

Everyone knows that complying with Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations is a must. However, for this California bank, their deficiencies cost them a $50 million penalty by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Let’s see where they went wrong.

Rabobank, N.A., of Roseville, California was subject to a cease and desist order on December 5, 2013 for deficiencies in their BSA and AML compliance program. The consent order and recent penalty assigned on February 7, 2018 were Continue reading →

Fighting the Continuing SAR Battle

Our most popular blog posts are about writing a knockout SAR narrative (you can find part one here and part two here). But when reviewing suspicious activity reports, we’ve noticed a large number of issues associated with fighting battles known as continuing SARs. As such, it seems that a guide to winning a continuing SAR battle is judicious.

What Is a Continuing SAR?

When a financial institution identifies a suspicious activity, it must file a suspicious activity report—or SAR. But if it later finds additional suspicious activity related to Continue reading →

Figuring Out What to Say and How to Say It to the Board of Directors is Like Balancing on a Bicycle

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

-Albert Einstein

Successfully riding a bike to get where you want to go requires patience, knowledge, and experience. Determining what to say to your board of directors is like learning how to balance on a bicycle. The “what to say” is like leaning and pedaling on a bike. If you lean too far to one side or the other, you’ll fall off. If you pedal too Continue reading →

Three BSA/AML Errors to Avoid

Bank Secrecy Act and Anti-money Laundering (BSA/AML) enforcement is shaping up to be a hot compliance topic this year. We’ve heard from the NCUA that one of its supervisory priorities for 2018 will be BSA compliance. There are also some big changes coming in just a few months with FinCEN’s new customer due diligence and beneficial ownership requirements. What all this means is that you’ll want to pay particularly close attention to your BSA/AML program and procedures throughout 2018. To ensure your AML program is Continue reading →

E-SIGN Refresher Course

The E-SIGN Act has been around since June, 2000. That means its 18th birthday is coming up. As banking regulations go, this isn’t exactly new. 18 years is plenty of time for the novelty to wear off and for it to become a commonplace part of your compliance routine. However, that doesn’t mean compliance is always straightforward and simple, especially now that the demand for electronic products and services is growing, including mobile banking, remote deposit transfers, e-statements, and online banking is at an all-time high. Continue reading →

SAFE Act Exceptions: Compliance Officer’s Best Friend?

Dog is Man’s best friend, they say, but the fact that “Beware of Dog” signs exist seems to sully the truth of that colloquial phrase. Yes, that snarling and vicious guard dog in your neighbor’s backyard might be somebody’s best friend, but it doesn’t seem to be friendly to humankind in general. It wouldn’t take much to provoke that dog into biting you. On the other hand, most well-mannered dogs that people keep as regular pets wouldn’t bite unless the circumstances were extreme. But push them Continue reading →

The Top 5 Posts of 2017

2017 is just about gone, but there’s still just enough time to look back and see where you’ve been. Here’s a look back at the top 5 most popular blog posts of 2017.

1. Don’t Strike Out: 5 Common SAFE Act Violations and How to Avoid Them

Babe Ruth is considered by many to be the greatest baseball player of all time. Why? Well for starters, he set MLB records for home runs, runs batted in, bases on balls, slugging percentage, and on-base plus slugging, Continue reading →

Compliance Culture Scoreboard: Eliminate the Tough Losses

If you’re a diehard fan of a sports team, you watch, read and listen to analysis, interviews and reports even beyond the team’s actual games. True fanatics will even watch the postgame interviews after a tough loss. In these interviews, reporters love to ask the question, “what went wrong?” The players or coaches almost always reply with something like, “we just didn’t want it bad enough,” or, “they just fought harder than we did down the stretch.”

What if your institution were asked, “what went Continue reading →

What Older Consumers Complain About

In the holiday movie classic, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Clark Griswold spends hours covering every inch of his house with strands of lights. Before turning them on, he gathers his family out in front of the house, calls for a drum roll, plugs in the lights, and . . . nothing. The lights don’t turn on. His in-laws scoff, calling it a waste of resources. Clark’s daughter says, “he worked really hard, Grandma.” His father in law replies, “so do washing machines.”

If all elderly folks Continue reading →

Front-to-Back AML Validation: How to Envision What You May Be Missing

Originally published on

For those of us who experienced a partial loss of vision at a relatively young age, we likely remember the day that we learned we needed glasses. The process typically began with an elementary school teacher who noticed our permanent squint at the chalkboard. Before we knew it, we were sent to the school nurse for a primitive eye exam consisting of a few “E’s” in all of their assorted directions. Failing that, we were sent home with a note to our Continue reading →