LAS VEGAS — Top compliance lawyers joined by leading regulators gave credit union CEOs and their auditing staffers a kind of primer on the do’s and don’ts as well as legal pitfalls of dealing with the Bank Secrecy Act/Patriot Act during a two-day Credit Union Times/Executive Enterprise Institute conference here.

In a series of talks, the presenters addressed some of the most troublesome aspects of “Suspicious Activity” and “Currency Transaction” reporting with a focus on the need for more, not less documentation. In a breakdown of the differences between BSA and money laundering, Miami attorney Gregory A. Baldwin of Holland & Knight reminded the group that a BSA investigation is usually regulatory or civil, but a money laundering investigation is usually criminal. Regardless, “whether it’s a regulatory investigation or criminal investigation, take it very seriously and be proactive,” urged Baldwin. “And understand you have no way to stop it or make it go away.” In a regulatory investigation, “you know about when it is coming,” he cautioned adding that “you know what the regulator is going to look at and the standards” he or she will follow. But in a criminal investigation, the conditions are just the opposite and it can be based on “current or former officers or employees or confidential informants and even convicted felons. “It is secret by nature and it can go in any direction,” he declared. It is obvious that counsel needs to be retained not only to find out what the suspected violation is, what CU accounts are involved, and whether CU employees or officers are targets, he said.

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