Controlling Shareholders Of Banca Privada D’Andorra, Respond To FinCEN’s “311 Notice of Finding”

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bpa_updatesYesterday, 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.

Strong words.

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

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5 thoughts on “Controlling Shareholders Of Banca Privada D’Andorra, Respond To FinCEN’s “311 Notice of Finding””

  1. Excellent coverage of this topic. Thank you! This will be helpful for many of our readers. Hopefully the withdrawal limits will be addressed shortly. Thanks again.

  2. Wow. This bank was heavily recommended by Peter and QWealth. You guys need to do more due diligence on your banking recommendations! What other banks on your list might be targeted by FinCEN?

    • John, you can be assured that Mr. Macfarlane personally visits every bank that is published in our banking guide to perform due diligence. If only we had a fly on the wall at FinCEN then…

      BPA is not alone in having been investigated due to the actions of a few employees. A quick Internet search reveals that HSBC has recently had similar investigations. Same with BofA, Wachovia, CitiBank, and OECD.

      The KYC (know your customer) process at BPA was in line with established guidelines. So performing thorough due diligence and evaluating bank procedures with established guidelines still does not prevent the actions of a few affecting greater numbers of people. Even larger international banks have had similar issues due to the actions of rogue employees.

      Hopefully this helps put things in a bit of perspective. Thank you for your comment!

  3. The fact is any bank, offshore or onshore dealing with USD has the potential to either be identified by FinCEN as a AML concern or more likely lose access to their USD correspondent bank account. What we have seen in the last two year or so has rocked the offshore banking world which is increasingly smaller and requires an increasingly large deposit and higher fees.

    • Very true! The AML concerns include large banks from the USA too, especially ones that have Latin American operations. Thank you very much for your thoughtful comment.

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