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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

US Treasury removes island’s credit unions from money laundering at-risk list



Mabel Jiménez Miranda, executive director of the Cooperatives Supervision and Insurance Corp.

By The Star Staff


The U.S. Department of the Treasury has removed Puerto Rico’s cooperatives, or credit unions, from the list of entities at high risk for money laundering, an official said Wednesday.


Mabel Jiménez Miranda, executive president of the Cooperatives Supervision and Insurance Corp. (COSSEC by its Spanish acronym), expressed satisfaction at the Treasury Department’s decision to eliminate island co-ops from the list of entities with “vulnerability and risks” for money laundering. The federal agency removed the U.S. territory from the National Risk Assessments of Capital Blockade, Terrorism Financing and Proliferation Financing Report 2024 as a risky scenario.


“Without a doubt, it is positive news that we are no longer within the special focus,” Jiménez Miranda said. “However, it is important to emphasize and not ignore the importance of continuing with good financial practices in a responsible manner.”


In July 2023, COSSEC created a Compliance Department to strengthen processes and evaluate savings and credit cooperatives to ensure that they comply with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) requirements and Office of Foreign Assets Control.


The department seeks to determine whether a cooperative has established and implemented an effective anti-money laundering (BSA/AML) program, verify whether the cooperative is complying with the requirements of maintaining and documenting the records and reporting required by regulatory agencies, and detect weaknesses or violations in the execution of the anti-money laundering (BSA/AML) program. Likewise, it helps the credit union understand the BSA requirements and encourage compliance, document the findings of the compliance examination, and share them with the examined credit union for discussion, response and correction. Finally, it submits serious or recurring BSA violations to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).


“Both COSSEC staff and the cooperatives in close communication have worked hand in hand for faithful compliance with state and federal agencies,” Jiménez Miranda said. “This is beneficial for maintaining the trust of our members in the institutions, promoting good practices, and assisting cooperatives in their duty.”


In a February 2022 report, the federal Treasury highlighted the risks posed by Puerto Rico’s international banking entities, international financial entities, and cooperatives in a section titled “Special Focus: Non-federally Chartered Puerto Rican Financial Entities,” noting that they were not subject to a federal regulation requiring federally incorporated financial institutions to establish and maintain an anti-money laundering program.


However, a FinCEN rule made the requirement equally adaptable to the aforementioned Puerto Rican financial entities.

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