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Friday, February 14,2014

U.S. government issues guidelines for banks to provide services to marijuana businesses

Asks that banks report suspicious activity

By Caitlin Rockett

Banks now have permission to offer financial services to marijuana-related businesses.

The Treasury and Justice Departments issued guidance Friday that addresses conflicting state and federal laws regarding marijuana. Despite a federal ban on both medical and recreational marijuana, 20 states and the District of Columbia have legalized certain marijuana activity.

The freshly minted rules require financial institutions to make regular reports to the Treasury Department and file suspicious activity reports (SAR) when necessary.

From the memo:

A financial institution is required to file a SAR if … the financial institution knows, suspects, or has reason to suspect that a transaction conducted or attempted by, at, or through the financial institution:(i) involves funds derived from illegal activity or is an attempt to disguise funds derived from illegal activity; (ii) is designed to evade regulations promulgated under the (Bank Secrecy Act), or (iii) lacks a business or apparent lawful purpose.



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