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Matt is a skilled advocate for clients subject to regulatory oversight, including financial services companies. He provides guidance by developing informed strategies for investigations, enforcement matters, compliance, and litigation.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) recently issued a report entitled Identity-Related Suspicious Activity: 2021 Threats and Trends highlighting threat patterns and trend information derived from financial institutions’ Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) filings for the calendar year 2021. Financial institutions are required to file suspicious activity reports no later than 30 calendar days after the initial detection of facts that could constitute suspicious activity.

Cryptocurrency, with its anonymity and decentralization, has revolutionized financial transactions. However, it has also opened doors for illicit activities, such as terrorist financing. Below we explore the role of cryptocurrency in terrorist financing, focusing on Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.

On November 20, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) instituted a civil enforcement action against Kraken, a major U.S. cryptocurrency exchange. The SEC alleged Kraken operated as an unregistered broker, dealer, exchange, and clearing agency, in violation of the Securities Exchange Act. The SEC’s lawsuit aims to prohibit Kraken from continuing these activities and seeks an unspecific amount of civil monetary penalties.

On November 21, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) unsealed its criminal indictment against (Binance), the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, and its CEO, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao (CZ). The indictment against Binance contains three charges: (1) conspiracy to violate the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) by failing to implement and maintain an effective anti-money laundering (AML) program; (2) conducting an unlicensed money services business; and (3) willful violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). On the same day, at a press conference also attended by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman Russ Behnam, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Binance pled guilty to all charges, and the DOJ is requiring Binance to pay approximately $4.3 billion in criminal penalties and forfeiture. CZ also pled guilty to violating the BSA by failing to maintain an effective AML program. As a result, he must resign as Binance’s CEO and is awaiting criminal sentencing.

On October 13, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed Assembly Bill 39 (Digital Financial Assets Law). This new law broadly empowers the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) to govern “digital financial asset business activity” and prohibits entities from engaging in such activity with California residents without obtaining a license from the DFPI, among other criteria.

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Examinations has outlined its 2024 Examination Priorities, with a significant focus on cryptocurrency, emerging technology, and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws. This has important implications for financial services. Our Regulatory Oversight blog has the details; key highlights are below.

In this episode of The Consumer Finance Podcast, Troutman Pepper Partners Chris Willis and Matthew Orso discuss lessons learned from bank internal investigations. They explore the trigger points that give rise to these investigations, provide useful advice for banks regarding their investigations, discuss how to avoid common issues, and suggest remedial measures to prevent issues from repeating.

On October 19, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) dismissed its claims against Ripple Labs, Inc. (Ripple) executives Bradley Garlinghouse and Christian Larsen for allegedly aiding and abetting Ripple’s violations of the Securities Act with respect to its “institutional sales” of XRP. The Southern District of New York had deemed “institutional sales” to be unregistered securities in its July summary judgment decision, however, at that time the court reserved judgment as to the aiding and abetting claims against the executives. The matter was set for trial in 2024.

Join Troutman Pepper Partner Chris Willis and fellow Partner Matthew Orso as they discuss the Bank Secrecy Act, anti-money laundering, and countering the financing of terrorism rules, as they pertain to financial institutions defined by FinCEN. The discussion includes topics such as which companies are subject to the rules, compliance issues financial institutions may face, and what financial institutions can do to avoid potential issues.

In this episode of The Crypto Exchange, Troutman Pepper Partner Ethan Ostroff welcomes his colleagues Mike Lowe and Matt Orso to discuss the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Illicit Finance Risk Assessment of Decentralized Finance (DeFi), which assesses how illicit actors are abusing DeFi services, as well as vulnerabilities unique to DeFi services.