Michael Mosier Becomes Acting-Director of FinCEN at Unprecedented Time of AML Reform
On April 11, 2021, Michael Mosier assumed the position of Acting Director of the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). FinCEN had announced Kenneth Blanco's departure from his position as director on April 2; Blanco served in that role since December 2017.
Mosier's new position, which is expected to become permanent, comes at a pivotal moment in FinCEN's history. Pursuant to the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (AML Act), FinCEN has been tasked with implementing unprecedented reforms to US anti-money laundering laws. The AML Act was enacted on January 1, 2021 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2021 (NDAA). As Acting Director, Mosier's leadership will play a significant role in shaping FinCEN's regulatory and enforcement agenda in this new regime of heightened AML regulation.
Mosier's Return to FinCEN
Acting Director Mosier's new role marks his most recent tour at FinCEN. In prior stints, Mr. Mosier served as Deputy Director and as the bureau's first Digital Innovation Officer, as well as Chief of Strategic Advancement. To join as Acting Director, Mosier is leaving his recent appointment as Counselor to the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, a position he commenced last month. Mosier's relevant work experience also includes serving as Chief Technical Counsel at Chainalysis, a cryptocurrency compliance and investigations firm.
Acting Director Mosier has an extensive background in public service. He began his legal career as a prosecutor at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. He held the position of Associate Director in Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control and, at the Department of Justice, he served as Deputy Chief of the Money Laundering & Asset Recovery Section, which leads DOJ's asset forfeiture and AML enforcement efforts. He also spent a tour at the White House National Security Council as Director for Transnational Organized Crime.
NDAA Sets a Busy Agenda for Treasury and FinCEN
FinCEN has been tasked with a daunting regulatory agenda. The AML Act, which includes within it the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA), requires Treasury and FinCEN to implement several rules over the next few years that will require significant resources. FinCEN has stated that "[t]imely and effective NDAA implementation will be challenging and is FinCEN's top priority." Indeed, the NDAA authorized the appropriation of $136 million to FinCEN for fiscal year 2021 and $60 million in 2022. And on April 9, President Biden requested increased discretionary funding—$191 million for FinCEN in 2022—specifically "to create a database that tracks the ownership and control of certain companies and organizations and help combat the use of complex corporate structures to shield illegal activity."
Among other areas, items on FinCEN's regulatory agenda include drafting rules for implementing the beneficial owner registry; establishing a pilot program on sharing information with branches, subsidiaries and affiliates; and an enhanced whistleblower program. For example, by January 1, 2022, the Treasury Secretary must issue regulations requiring certain corporate entities to report beneficial ownership information to FinCEN, for which FinCEN issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on April 1. The NDAA also requires the Treasury Secretary, in coordination with the Director of FinCEN, to issue rules establishing a pilot program permitting financial institutions to share information relating to SARs with the institution's foreign branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates (except those located in China, Russia, or certain other jurisdictions) for the purpose of combating illicit finance risks by January 1, 2022. The Treasury Secretary, in consultation with the Attorney General, is also authorized to issue regulations for the enhanced whistleblower program as necessary or appropriate to implement the whistleblower provisions of the AML Act.
Acting Director Mosier has a full plate of work ahead, but his experiences across private and public sectors, including multiple roles at FinCEN and as Deputy Chief of MLARS, should equip him to navigate these monumental tasks.
For more information on the AML Act or BSA/AML enforcement and compliance generally, please refer to our Advisory on BSA/AML reform or contact the authors of this blog post.
*Gelsey Beaubrun contributed to this blog post. Ms. Beaubrun is a graduate of Columbia University School of Law and is employed at Arnold & Porter's Washington, DC office. She is not admitted to the practice of law.
© Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP 2021 All Rights Reserved. This blog post is intended to be a general summary of the law and does not constitute legal advice. You should consult with counsel to determine applicable legal requirements in a specific fact situation.