Currently estimates show over 400 Billion electonic monetary transactions per year and network penetration is a major threat.
From FINCEN (The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network):
"A financial institution is required to file a SAR on any activity involving a marijuana-related business (including those duly licensed under state law), in accordance with FinCEN’s guidance and suspicious activity reporting requirements and related thresholds.”
SAR FILING Types from FINCEN:
Marijuana Limited SAR Filings
A financial institution providing financial services to a marijuana-related business that it reasonably believes, based on its customer due diligence, does not implicate one of the Cole Memo priorities or violate state law should file a “Marijuana Limited” SAR. The content of this SAR should be limited to the following information: (i) identifying information of the subject and related parties; (ii) addresses of the subject and related parties; (iii) the fact that the filing institution is filing the SAR solely because the subject is engaged in a marijuana-related business; and (iv) the fact that no additional suspicious activity has been identified. Financial institutions should use the term “MARIJUANA LIMITED” in the narrative section.
A financial institution should follow FinCEN’s existing guidance on the timing of filing continuing activity reports for the same activity initially reported on a “Marijuana Limited” SAR.6 The continuing activity report may contain the same limited content as the initial SAR, plus details about the amount of deposits, withdrawals, and transfers in the account since the last SAR. However, if, in the course of conducting customer due diligence (including ongoing monitoring for red flags), the financial institution detects changes in activity that potentially implicate one of the Cole Memo priorities or violate state law, the financial institution should file a “Marijuana Priority” SAR.
“Marijuana Priority” SAR Filings
A financial institution filing a SAR on a marijuana-related business that it reasonably believes, based on its customer due diligence, implicates one of the Cole Memo priorities or violates state law should file a “Marijuana Priority” SAR. The content of this SAR should include comprehensive detail in accordance with existing regulations and guidance. Details particularly relevant to law enforcement in this context include: (i) identifying information of the subject and related parties; (ii) addresses of the subject and related parties; (iii) details regarding the enforcement priorities the financial institution believes have been implicated; and (iv) dates, amounts, and other relevant details of financial transactions involved in the suspicious activity. Financial institutions should use the term “MARIJUANA PRIORITY” in the narrative section to help law enforcement distinguish these SARs.7
“Marijuana Termination” SAR Filings
If a financial institution deems it necessary to terminate a relationship with a marijuana-related business in order to maintain an effective anti-money laundering compliance program, it should file a SAR and note in the narrative the basis for the termination. Financial institutions should use the term “MARIJUANA TERMINATION” in the narrative section. To the extent the financial institution becomes aware that the marijuana-related business seeks to move to a second financial institution, FinCEN urges the first institution to use Section 314(b) voluntary information sharing (if it qualifies) to alert the second financial institution of potential illegal activity. See Section 314(b) Fact Sheet for more information.8
Red Flags to Distinguish Priority SARs
The following red flags indicate that a marijuana-related business may be engaged in activity that implicates one of the Cole Memo priorities or violates state law. These red flags indicate only possible signs of such activity, and also do not constitute an exhaustive list. It is thus important to view any red flag(s) in the context of other indicators and facts, such as the financial institution’s knowledge about the underlying parties obtained through its customer due diligence. Further, the presence of any of these red flags in a given transaction or business arrangement may indicate a need for additional due diligence, which could include seeking information from other involved financial institutions under Section 314(b). These red flags are based primarily upon schemes and typologies described in SARs or identified by our law enforcement and regulatory partners, and may be updated in future guidance.
- A customer appears to be using a state-licensed marijuana-related business as a front or pretext to launder money derived from other criminal activity (i.e., not related to marijuana) or derived from marijuana-related activity not permitted under state law. Relevant indicia could include:
- The business receives substantially more revenue than may reasonably be expected given the relevant limitations imposed by the state in which it operates.
- The business receives substantially more revenue than its local competitors or than might be expected given the population demographics.
- The business is depositing more cash than is commensurate with the amount of marijuana-related revenue it is reporting for federal and state tax purposes.
- The business is unable to demonstrate that its revenue is derived exclusively from the sale of marijuana in compliance with state law, as opposed to revenue derived from (i) the sale of other illicit drugs, (ii) the sale of marijuana not in compliance with state law, or (iii) other illegal activity.
- The business makes cash deposits or withdrawals over a short period of time that are excessive relative to local competitors or the expected activity of the business.
- Deposits apparently structured to avoid Currency Transaction Report (“CTR”) requirements.
- Rapid movement of funds, such as cash deposits followed by immediate cash withdrawals.
- Deposits by third parties with no apparent connection to the accountholder.
- Excessive commingling of funds with the personal account of the business’s owner(s) or manager(s), or with accounts of seemingly unrelated businesses.
- Individuals conducting transactions for the business appear to be acting on behalf of other, undisclosed parties of interest.
- Financial statements provided by the business to the financial institution are inconsistent with actual account activity.
- A surge in activity by third parties offering goods or services to marijuana-related businesses, such as equipment suppliers or shipping servicers.
- The business is unable to produce satisfactory documentation or evidence to demonstrate that it is duly licensed and operating consistently with state law.
- The business is unable to demonstrate the legitimate source of significant outside investments.
- A customer seeks to conceal or disguise involvement in marijuana-related business activity. For example, the customer may be using a business with a non-descript name (e.g., a “consulting,” “holding,” or “management” company) that purports to engage in commercial activity unrelated to marijuana, but is depositing cash that smells like marijuana.
- Review of publicly available sources and databases about the business, its owner(s), manager(s), or other related parties, reveal negative information, such as a criminal record, involvement in the illegal purchase or sale of drugs, violence, or other potential connections to illicit activity.
- The business, its owner(s), manager(s), or other related parties are, or have been, subject to an enforcement action by the state or local authorities responsible for administering or enforcing marijuana-related laws or regulations.
- A marijuana-related business engages in international or interstate activity, including by receiving cash deposits from locations outside the state in which the business operates, making or receiving frequent or large interstate transfers, or otherwise transacting with persons or entities located in different states or countries.
- The owner(s) or manager(s) of a marijuana-related business reside outside the state in which the business is located.
- A marijuana-related business is located on federal property or the marijuana sold by the business was grown on federal property.
- A marijuana-related business’s proximity to a school is not compliant with state law.
- A marijuana-related business purporting to be a “non-profit” is engaged in commercial activity inconsistent with that classification, or is making excessive payments to its manager(s) or employee(s).
Currency Transaction Reports and Form 8300’s
Financial institutions and other persons subject to FinCEN’s regulations must report currency transactions in connection with marijuana-related businesses the same as they would in any other context, consistent with existing regulations and with the same thresholds that apply. For example, banks and money services businesses would need to file CTRs on the receipt or withdrawal by any person of more than $10,000 in cash per day. Similarly, any person or entity engaged in a non-financial trade or business would need to report transactions in which they receive more than $10,000 in cash and other monetary instruments for the purchase of goods or services on FinCEN Form 8300 (Report of Cash Payments Over $10,000 Received in a Trade or Business). A business engaged in marijuana-related activity may not be treated as a non-listed business under 31 C.F.R. § 1020.315(e)(8), and therefore, is not eligible for consideration for an exemption with respect to a bank’s CTR obligations under 31 C.F.R. § 1020.315(b)(6).