Yesterday, 6th May, 2105, Banca Privada d’Andorra finally responded to the FinCEN findings of March 6th 2015.
As might be expected, the bank firmly but respectfully disagrees with FinCEN’s actions.
The Cierco Brothers, the two primary shareholders, argue in their response that …
“Had FinCEN engaged in a focused, confidential dialogue, they may have reasonably concluded that filing a ‘311 Notice’ would be precipitous and disproportionate.”
Their response continues …
“The Cierco Brothers were not day-to-day managers [of the BPA Group] but they set a general strategy of responsible growth, hired qualified professionals including compliance professionals, and relied on reports of management, third-party auditors, and regulators with respect to appropriate systems and controls. Far from seeking to avoid scrutiny of their operations, by confining their business to a small country like Andorra, they were the first Andorran bank to move into the Spanish market, accepting willingly the disclosure, compliance and regulatory requirements expected of financial institutions operating in the European Union.”
Their reply then goes on to highlight the fact that the Bank used not one, but two of the world’s leading Bnak auditors, KPMG and Deloitte.
“ …the Notice was particularly surprising, considering the fact that since 2003, as Non-Executive Co-Chairmen of the BPA Group, the Cierco Brothers approved the hiring of two of the world’s leading external auditors, KPMG and Deloitte, to conduct annual anti-money laundering (“AML”) audits.
In a press release, issued through PR Newswire, the bank’s lawyers, the Washington-based law firm, Lewis Baach pllc, added that …
“The Cierco Brothers received regular confirmation from leading auditors and their regulators, that BPA complied with applicable AML laws and regulations.”
Mr. Eric Lewis, of Lewis Baach pllc, then turned his attention to the response of FinCEN, concluding that …
“FinCEN failed to consult, or try to address whatever issues it had identified, and failed to gather and objectively evaluate the extensive legitimate business of BPA. Had it consulted readily available sources of information here, with regard to legitimate business, and the impact of the measures on the hundreds of diligent employees and thousands of depositors business, the conclusions and the remedies should have been different.”
“In its most recent audits, covering the 2012 and 2013 calendar years, KPMG and Deloitte’s AML audits show a bank with robust, and constantly upgrading AML controls, fully consistent with the letter and spirit of the relevant legal and regulatory requirements. BPA utilized state of the art, internationally recognized databases and investigative tools with respect to the intake and ongoing monitoring of its clients.”
So all in all, an extremely robust response to the FinCEN actions, and obviously we await further developments in this ongoing and unfolding story.
Kris Karlsson – Banking Expert, The Q Wealth Team