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Law 360: Deutsche Laundering Cop Warns Against DC Guessing Game

Law360, New York (October 10, 2017, 6:51 PM EDT) — The head of Deutsche Bank AG’s Western Hemisphere anti-money laundering efforts said on Tuesday that banks should not assume that there will be any significant changes to rules governing suspicious activity reporting under the Trump administration.Richard Weber, a Deutsche Bank managing director and head of the German bank’s anti-financial crime efforts for the Americas region, said at a New York conference that banks need to continue to do their suspicious activity reporting and act as if there will be no significant tightening or loosening of anti-money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act enforcement from U.S. regulators even with the change of administration.Instead, banks should continue to monitor their systems for attempts by criminals and terrorists to launder funds, Weber, the former head of the IRS’s criminal investigations chief.“We have certain obligations under the AML laws and the BSA laws. We need to make sure that we’re fulfilling our obligations right now and that we’re doing the right thing for all the right reasons,” Weber, who joined Deutsche Bank in June, said.President Donald Trump’s administration has promised to roll back rules for banks on many fronts, but it has not taken any major steps to pull back on the Obama administration’s enforcement of AML rules and the BSA.To the contrary, the Trump administration has repeatedly used one of former President Barack Obama’s favored tools — economic sanctions — to try to slow North Korea’s nuclear program and go after Iranian interests. And that has meant increased compliance concerns for banks.Weber said that banks cannot get too caught up in the day-to-day discussion of potential policy changes, and instead should focus on making sure they meet the requirements for reporting suspicious financial activities and complying with law enforcement and regulatory requests for information. Banks can then adapt to whatever changes do come down the pike, he said.“So who knows what may happen in terms of regulatory change. My view is that we need to do what we need to do despite what the changes may be,” Weber said at an “integrity forum” sponsored by compliance firm Exiger.Weber faces a daunting job at Deutsche Bank, with Germany’s largest bank having recently settled with the New York Department of Financial Services for $425 million for carrying out mirror trades aimed at helping wealthy Russians evade sanctions as well as a $41 million settlement with the Federal Reserve over AML failures, among other settlements.But Weber said he got a commitment from Deutsche Bank that it would work to improve its compliance with anti-money laundering laws, and has seen just that in his three months at the bank.See more from Law 360 here.

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