Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
250 E Street, SW, Mailstop 1-5
Washington, DC 20219
Bancshares appreciates the opportunity to respond to the EGRPRA
request for burden reduction recommendations. Commerce Bancshares,
Inc. is a registered bank holding company with total assets of
$14.1 billion at
March 31, 2005,
and four bank
subsidiaries. Three of these banks are full-service banks, with
approximately 190 branch locations in Missouri, Illinois, and
Kansas. The other bank is a limited-purpose bank, with one office
in Omaha, Nebraska. All of the banks are national banks.
The Agencies have
requested comments and suggestions on ways to reduce regulatory
burden in rules relating to Money Laundering, Safety and Soundness,
and Securities. As a bank holding company of national banks, our
comments generally address the OCC regulations in these areas.
·If it is not possible to eliminate ongoing SAR
reporting solely for structuring transactions to avoid CTR filing,
we request that the Agencies allow and provide guidance for advising
customers about SAR filings.
It appears to be common knowledge that banks are required to report
on cash transactions over $10,000. [31 CFR §103.22.] However,
customers dont seem to know that structuring their transactions to
avoid CTR reporting causes banks to file both a CTR and a SAR about
the transactions. [31 CFR §§103.18 and .22, and 12 CFR §21.11.] The
customers in question do not appear to be acting with illegal or
malicious intent, and are likely not the sorts of customers in which
law enforcement agencies are interested, but we are prohibited from
advising the customer about structuring or SAR reporting. [31 CFR
103.63.] We would like to see that prohibition clarified or
eliminated so that we can advise our customers against structuring
their transactions to avoid CTR filings.
request guidance in determining what is "suspicious" for purposes of
filing SARs. Banks need to more clearly understand what they should
be looking for and what should be considered suspicious. We
sometimes struggle to determine if a situation warrants a SAR
filing. If the doubt could be removed, the number of unnecessary SARs would be reduced, along with the excess compliance burden on
banks. Greater guidance will ultimately reduce the government's
burden by reducing the number of reports and by increasing the value
of the reports received.
request guidance on reporting on "high risk" accounts, such as
non-resident aliens, foreign correspondent banks, etc.
SAR form instructions need to be updated to match SAR Activity
Review 6. The current form instructions indicate that line items
should be left blank if they do not apply, or if information is not
available. However, the recent SAR Activity Review says in several
places that critical fields, if unknown, should contain responses
such as "none", "not available", "unknown".
threshold requiring the filing of CTRs is outdated and should be
increased to reflect inflation. The current level of $10,000 is no
longer realistic, given the amount of currency-related activity by
legitimate customers at and above that level. Raising the threshold
would reduce the number of reports filed and the related compliance
burden on financial institutions, and would increase the usefulness
of the information received by FinCEN. We recommend a new threshold
of no less than $20,000.
Business (MSB) accounts
responsibilities regarding Money Services Business accounts are
creating a new class of unbanked businesses. Financial institutions
like ours find that they must close the accounts of MSBs simply
because the regulatory risks and associated costs are so great they
can't afford to retain the accounts.
recently addressed this issue, and has provided valuable guidance
for banks. However, that guidance alone is not sufficient to induce
us to reopen accounts for MSBs. The Agencies should significantly
reduce the regulatory requirements on financial institutions in
order to make MSB accounts worthwhile. Another method of policing
MSBs must be found, because financial institutions can no longer
shoulder that burden.
USA PATRIOT Act
request that regulations be issued to implement Section 311 of the
USA PATRIOT Act. The current situation of trying to monitor the
Special Measure restrictions relating to people, places, or
transactions of primary money laundering concern is difficult at
best. We do not have a clear understanding of what is expected when
FinCEN issues the notices of proposed rulemaking to impose special
measures, and we are never certain when the special measures have
expired if final rules are not issued.
request that the Treasury Department, or FinCEN as their designee,
create a controlled list of entities that are of primary money
laundering concern at any given time. We recommend the online
posting, or some other timely periodic publication, of a list of all
entities of concern. The list should indicate the entity, its
location, the special measure(s) imposed, and the dates of issuance
and pending expiration. If the special measures are allowed to
expire 120 days after issued, the list should indicate that the
special measures have expired. Reference should be made to any final
rule that makes the special measures or other requirements
Confirmation of Securities Transactions Effected by Banks
requirement for Recordkeeping and Confirmation of Securities
Transactions Effected by Banks in 12 CFR §12 is outdated.
Specifically, we suggest that §12.7(a)(4) be revisited, because the
regulation requiring quarterly reports of personal securities
transactions does not fulfill the apparent intended purposes.
regulation relies entirely on the word of employees to disclose any
accounts over which they have authority to direct investments. If
they do not accurately and completely disclose the information,
there is no method to identify other existing accounts that have not
administration of the quarterly process involves tracking
statements, updating quarterly forms, identifying new employees
quarterly to add to the list, identifying terminated employees for
removal from the list, and then tracking the return of the forms.
This is a great deal of effort to expend on a process that tracks
only those transactions that the employee chooses to reveal. The
burden far outweighs the benefit in this case.
Again, thank you
for providing the opportunity to comment.
Sherri M. Beam