OCC issues order against Anchorage Digital over AML compliance

The United States Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, or OCC, has said it intends to pursue cease and desist proceedings against cryptocurrency custody bank Anchorage Digital for violating certain anti-money laundering requirements.

In a Thursday announcement, the OCC said it issued a consent order against Anchorage Digital based on its “failure to adopt and implement a compliance program” in accordance with required Bank Secrecy Act, or BSA, and AML standards. The government bureau said such actions placed Anchorage Digital in violation of its operating agreement with the OCC, established in January 2021.

“The OCC holds all nationally chartered banks to the same high standards, whether they engage in traditional or novel activities,” said Michael Hsu, acting comptroller of the currency. “When institutions fall short, we will take action and hold them accountable to ensure compliance with federal laws and regulations.”

Anchorage neither admits nor denies the comptroller’s findings, but the order reported the bank has “begun corrective action and is committed to taking all necessary and appropriate steps to remedy the deficiencies.” A consent order, by definition, implies two parties – in this case, Anchorage and the OCC – have reached an agreement in principle on moving forward.

In a statement to Cointelegraph, Anchorage Digital said it had “already been working to strengthen the areas identified [by the OCC] and will continue to bolster these areas, reinforcing a new, digital asset standard for internal BSA/AML controls and procedures.” The bank hinted that the OCC’s actions might help establish a regulatory precedent that could encourage other firms in the space to set up federally regulated digital asset banks.

According to the OCC, there is a 15-day deadline to establish a committee for “specific corrective actions” to ensure the bank is in compliance with the AML and BSA requirements, and issue progress reports on the plan as it is executed. In addition, the government bureau ordered Anchorage make a BSA officer available to ensure compliance.

Related: OCC Comptroller calls for federal collaboration with crypto intermediaries

Anchorage was the first crypto firm in the United States to receive a national bank charter from the OCC in January 2021. Since his departure from the government bureau, former Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks was briefly the CEO of Binance.US and now the CEO of crypto mining firm Bitfury.

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