FinCEN doesn’t seem keen on publicizing these updates … and the media doesn’t seem keen to pick them up. But there is some interesting information …
Since it’s Valentine’s Day 2014 guidance for banks to (not) bank marijuana-related businesses (MRBs) and to file the three types of “marijuana” SARs, FinCEN has been tracking the numbers and types of SARs filed and how may banks and credit unions are banking MRBs (based on the SAR filings). https://www.fincen.gov/sites/default/files/shared/277157%20EA%202nd%20Q%20MJ%20Stats_Public.pdf
- Limited Marijuana SARs are those where the bank is simply reporting the existence of an MRB – no Cole memo or other red flags. There have been 37,885 of these since 2Q 2014 and they are going up linearly.
- Priority Marijuana SARs are those where one or more red flags is/are triggered but the bank is not exiting the MRB. There have been 3,809 of these since 2Q 2014 and they are going up linearly.
- Termination Marijuana SARs are those where one or more red flags is/are triggered and the bank is exiting or has exited the MRB. There have been 12,331 of these since 2Q 2014 and they are going up linearly.
That’s a total of ~52,000 marijuana-related SARs filed since 2Q2014. To put that number in perspective, in that same period, depository institutions filed just over 3.7 million SARs … so marijuana SARs filed by depository institutions accounted for 1.4% of all depository institution SARs.
Another (more) interesting fact. FinCEN reports that, based on SAR filings, about 310 banks and 100 credit unions are “actively banking” marijuana businesses. That’s about double the number from three years ago, but only about 20 higher than a year ago (suggesting that those institutions that are going to actively bank marijuana businesses have already decided to do so, and the rest will sit on the sidelines until the regulatory and criminal prospects are more settled). But it’s still a small fraction of the total number: using FDIC and NCUA data from June 2015 (roughly the middle of the “marijuana SAR” period and published in FinCEN’s final rule for beneficial ownership), there are ~6,350 banks and ~6,165 credit unions. So … just less than 5% of banks and 2% of credit unions are “actively banking” marijuana businesses, according to FinCEN. But those numbers may be high – those institutions that are filing “Termination” SARs may not, in fact, be knowingly, actively banking marijuana related businesses, but exiting those it finds through monitoring and surveillance – or they may be low – it’s possible that not all banks and credit unions that are “actively banking” marijuana businesses are actively filing Marijuana Limited SARs. It’s hard to tell, since FinCEN seems reluctant or unable to publish detailed, actionable information.