Last week, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) issued new guidance (“Guidance”) for federally-chartered credit unions serving the hemp industry. All of us at Harris Bricken were excited to see the Guidance released: NCUA retained us last fall to advise the government on this project, and we have always represented credit union clients as to cannabis business services.
The Guidance is structured in an easily digestible Q&A format: it comes with clarifications, assurances and no real surprises. Fundamentally, the Guidance is “advisory and provides no new expectations or requirements for credit unions.” At issue is the impact that hemp businesses banking may have on credit union obligations under the Bank Secrecy Act and implementing regulations, sometimes known as anti-money laundering legal authority (“AML”).
Before we get into a few key issues, though, some context may be helpful.
First, it’s important to understand what NCUA is and does. NCUA is an independent federal agency that provides deposit insurance to all federal credit union depositors (and most state credit union depositors). It also charters and regulates federal credit unions. If you are a credit union member, your deposit is almost certainly insured through something called the National Credit Union Share Insurance