Federal authorities with the U.S. Treasure Department want banks to begin collecting – and turning over – data from their marijuana clients so investigators can uncover potential money laundering schemes.
Although our Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers know this news might cause wariness among those in the pot industry, it’s worth pointing out that such data is already gleaned from businesses in other industries, such as convenience stores, car dealers, liquor stores, and casinos. It may in fact by a sign that the federal government is starting (albeit at a snail’s pace) to recognize the state-legal cannabis market as legitimate.
The Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency posted its notice in the Federal Register indicating that it plans to keep tabs on cannabis companies as part of its regular yearly filings required of banks. In addition to marijuana businesses, other markets of emerging interest to federal financial regulators are ATM operators and crypto asset traders. The Money Laundering Risk system used by the OCC boosts the ability of federal investigators and banks to flag and investigate potential money laundering risks.
Public comment on these proposed changes is open through early August.
We don’t know exactly how information gleaned from those bank-submitted Risk Summary Forms are analyzed, but the notice indicates the data is used to help authorities better pinpoint those that “may pose heightened risk” of money laundering activities.
As of last September, it was reported there were more than 750 banks and credit unions actively serving cannabis company clients. That was an uptick of 7 percent since the previous quarter.
Within the last year, the U.S. Census Bureau also began gathering information on state government revenues generated from state-legal marijuana. Also, the U.S. Economic Classification Policy Committee issued a recommendation to include marijuana companies as an official designation within the North American Industry Classification System. This system helps the government keep tabs on market and employment information on industries throughout all of North America. Continue reading