No person, partnership or corporation shall sell or offer for sale, in this state, any lands, situate outside this state, which are to be planted in trees or vines or divided into town or suburban lots, or any unimproved or undeveloped lands, or any lands, including cemetery lots, cemetery privileges, burial rights or privileges, the value of which materially depends on the future performance of any stipulation or promise to furnish irrigation, transportation facilities, streets, sidewalks, sewers, gas, electricity or other value enhancing utility or improvement of any undivided part or share, whether an aliquot part or a part designated on any other basis, or any mine, mineral claim, or other estate in any mine, or in the lands containing the same, regardless of where located or situated, the value of which materially depends on the future discovery or development and production of the minerals, without first having filed with the commissioner of securities (which office is established in chapter thirty-two of this code) a detailed description of the property which, or any interest or part or share of which, is proposed to be sold, and such information with respect to the value thereof, and the title to such property or properties as the commissioner of securities shall require, and without causing such property to be registered by the commissioner of securities in the manner provided for the registration of securities by qualification under section three hundred four, article three, chapter thirty-two of this code; and no person shall sell or offer any such property for sale until he has been registered as a salesman by the commissioner of securities under the provisions for registering agents contained in article two, chapter thirty-two of this code. All of the provisions contained in chapter thirty-two of this code governing the registration of securities by qualification and the registration of agents and the penalties provided therein shall apply to the registration of properties and salesmen under this article: Provided, That nothing contained in this article shall prevent any bona fide owner of any such land, mine, mining lease, mineral claim or other property, or interest therein, from selling the same on his own account and not as a part, or in furtherance, of any promotion or development to the public.
Any person or corporation who, with intent to sell or in anywise dispose of merchandise, securities, service or anything offered by such person or corporation, directly or indirectly, to the public for sale or distribution, or with intent to increase the consumption thereof, or to induce the public in any manner to enter into any obligation relating thereto, or to acquire title thereto, or any interest therein, makes, publishes, disseminates, circulates or places before the public, or causes, directly or indirectly, to be made, published, disseminated, circulated or placed before the public in this state, in a newspaper or other publication, or in the form of a book, notice, handbill, poster, blueprint, map, bill, tag, label, circular, pamphlet, or letter, or by way of radio or television, or in any other way, an advertisement of any sort regarding merchandise, securities, service, land, lot or anything so offered to the public, which advertisement contains any promise, assertion, representation or statement of fact which is untrue, deceptive or misleading, with knowledge that the same was untrue, deceptive or misleading, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $2,000, or imprisoned in the county jail not more than six months, or both fined and imprisoned.
In any indictment for violation of any provision of this article, it shall not be necessary to negative any exception contained in any proviso or elsewhere in this article.
(1) "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Financial Institutions of this state.
(2) "Check" or "payment instrument" means any check, traveler's check, draft, money order or other instrument for the transmission or payment of money whether or not the instrument is negotiable. The term does not include a credit card voucher, a letter of credit or any instrument that is redeemable by the issuer in goods or services.
(3) "Currency" means a medium of exchange authorized or adopted by a domestic or foreign government.
(4) "Currency exchange" means the conversion of the currency of one government into the currency of another government, but does not include the issuance and sale of travelers checks denominated in a foreign currency. Transactions involving the electronic transmission of funds by licensed money transmitters which may permit, but do not require, the recipient to obtain the funds in a foreign currency outside of West Virginia are not currency exchange transactions: Provided, That they are not reportable as currency exchange transactions under federal laws and regulations.
(5) "Currency exchange, transportation, transmission business" means a person who is engaging in currency exchange, currency transportation or currency transmission as a service or for profit.
(6) "Currency transmission" or "money transmission" means engaging in the business of selling or issuing checks or the business of receiving currency, the payment of money, or other value that substitutes for money by any means for the purpose of transmitting, either prior to or after receipt, that currency, payment of money or other value that substitutes for money by wire, facsimile or other electronic means, or through the use of a financial institution, financial intermediary, the Federal Reserve system or other funds transfer network. It includes the transmission of funds through the issuance and sale of stored value or similar prepaid products' cards which are intended for general acceptance and used in commercial or consumer transactions.
(7) "Currency transportation" means knowingly engaging in the business of physically transporting currency from one location to another in a manner other than by a licensed armored car service exempted under section three of this article.
(8) "Licensee" means a person licensed by the commissioner under this article.
(9) "Money order" means any instrument for the transmission or payment of money in relation to which the purchaser or remitter appoints or purports to appoint the seller thereof as his or her agent for the receipt, transmission or handling of money, whether the instrument is signed by the seller, the purchaser or remitter or some other person.
(10) "Person" means any individual, partnership, association, joint stock association, limited liability company, trust or corporation.
(11) "Principal" means a licensee's owner, president, senior officer responsible for the licensee's business, chief financial officer or any other person who performs similar functions or who otherwise controls the conduct of the affairs of a licensee. A person controlling ten percent or more of the voting stock of any corporate applicant is a principal under this provision.
(a) Except as provided by section three of this article, a person may not engage in the business of currency exchange, transportation or transmission in this state without a license issued under this article. For purposes of this article, a person is considered to be engaging in those businesses in this state if he or she makes available, from a location inside or outside this state, an Internet website West Virginia citizens may access in order to enter into those transactions by electronic means.
(b) Any person who was previously licensed as a check seller under this chapter who holds a valid license on the effective date of this article shall be issued a provisional license under this article without the need of an additional application and fee. This provisional license shall expire upon six months of its issuance, during which time the licensee may continue to conduct its check selling business, provided that it maintains the net worth and security required under its previous license. The commissioner may require the licensee to obtain expanded bond coverage consistent with this article for the protection of purchasers of money transmission services and currency exchange services, as well as for covered currency transportation services, when the licensee conducts one or more of these businesses. At the expiration of a provisional license granted by this section, any person who wishes to continue to engage in any business regulated in this article shall apply for a license and meet the criteria under the provisions of this article. A provisional license granted by this section may upon hearing be suspended or revoked by the commissioner for good cause shown.
(a) The following are exempt from the provisions of this article:
(1) Banks, trust companies, foreign bank agencies, credit unions, savings banks and savings and loan associations authorized to do business in the state or which qualify as federally insured depository institutions, whether organized under the laws of this state, any other state or the United States;
(2) The United States and any department or agency of the United States;
(3) The United States post office;
(4) This state and any political subdivision of this state;
(5) The provision of electronic transfer of government benefits for any federal, state or county governmental agency as defined in Federal Reserve Board Regulation E, by a contractor for and on behalf of the United States or any department, agency or instrumentality of the United States or any state or any political subdivisions of a state;
(6) Persons engaged solely in the business of currency transportation who operate an armored car service in this state pursuant to licensure under article eighteen, chapter thirty of this code: Provided, That the net worth of the licensee exceeds $5 million. The term "armored car service" as used in this article means a service provided by a person transporting or offering to transport, under armed security guard, currency or other things of value in a motor vehicle specially equipped to offer a high degree of security. Persons seeking to claim this exemption shall notify the commissioner of their intent to do so and demonstrate that they qualify for its use. Persons seeking an exemption under this subdivision are not exempt from the provisions of this article if they also engage in currency exchange or currency transmission;
(7) Persons engaged in the business of currency transportation whose activities are limited exclusively to providing services to federally insured depository institutions, or to any federal, state or local governmental entities;
(8) Persons engaged solely in the business of removing currency from vending machines providing goods or services, if the machines are not used for gambling purposes or to convey any gambling ticket, token or other device used in a game of chance; and
(9) The State Regulatory Registry, LLC, which administers the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry on behalf of states and federal banking regulators.
(b) Any person who holds and maintains a valid license under this article may engage in the business of money transmission or currency exchange at one or more locations through or by means of an authorized delegate or delegates as set forth in section twenty-seven of this article, as the licensee may designate and appoint from time to time. No such authorized delegate is required to obtain a separate license under this article, but the use of sub-delegates is prohibited and the authorized delegate may only conduct business on behalf of its licensee.
(c) The issuance and sale of stored value cards or similar prepaid products which are intended to purchase items only from the issuer or seller of the stored value card is exempt from the provisions of this article.
(d) Any person who is required and properly obtains a license under this article to transport currency is exempt from the requirements of article eighteen, chapter thirty of this code.
(a) An applicant for a license shall submit an application to the commissioner on a form prescribed by the commissioner. The commissioner may direct an applicant to file a license application through the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry operated by the State Regulatory Registry, LLC.
(b) Each application shall be accompanied by a nonrefundable application fee and a license fee. If the application is approved, the application fee is the license fee for the first year of licensure.
(c) The commissioner shall issue a license if the commissioner finds that the applicant meets the requirements of this article and the rules adopted under this article. The commissioner shall approve or deny every application for an original license within one hundred twenty days from the date a complete application is submitted, unless the commissioner extends the period for good cause. All licenses issued under this article expire on December 31 of the year issued, unless sooner suspended or revoked, and are subject to renewal for the following year.
(d) The licensee at each office it owns and operates in West Virginia shall prominently display, or maintain available for inspection, a copy of the license authorizing the conduct of a currency exchange business if the location offers and provides such services. Where the currency exchange business is conducted through a licensee's authorized delegates in this state, each authorized delegate location offering such services shall maintain available for inspection proof of their appointment by the licensee to conduct such business.
(e) As a condition for renewal of a license, the licensee must submit to the commissioner an application for renewal on a form prescribed by the commissioner and an annual license renewal fee. The commissioner may direct an applicant to file a license renewal application through the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry operated by the State Regulatory Registry, LLC.
(f) A license issued under this article may not be transferred or assigned.
(g) An applicant for a license who is not located in this state shall file an irrevocable consent, duly acknowledged, that suits and actions may be commenced against the applicant in the courts of this state by service of process upon a person located within the state designated to accept service, or by service upon the Secretary of State, as well as by service as set forth in this chapter.
(a) The commissioner shall charge and collect the license application fees, license fees, license renewal fees, and examination costs in amounts reasonable and necessary to defray the cost of administering this article as follows:
(1) For applying for a license, an application and licensing fee of $1,000, plus $20 for each location at which the applicant and its authorized delegates are conducting business or propose to conduct business excepting the applicant's principal place of business.
(2) For renewal of a license, a fee of $250 plus $5 for each location at which the licensee and its authorized delegates are conducting business or propose to conduct business excepting the applicant's principal place of business, plus an assessment of up to $.001 for every dollar of transmission services provided in the prior year.
(3) The total of fees required by subdivisions (1) or (2) of this subsection may not exceed $25,000 for any one application.
(4) For a change in address by the licensee of its principal place of business, a fee of $100.
(5) For failure to timely submit an application of renewal or file audited financial statements required for renewal as set forth in this article, a penalty fee of $10 per day for each day late, unless an extension of time has been granted or the fee waived by the commissioner.
(b) The commissioner may, by rules proposed for legislative approval in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, amend the fees set forth in this section and in subsection (b), section eleven of this article.
(c) Fees and moneys received and collected under this article shall be paid into the special revenue account in the State Treasury for the Division of Financial Institutions established in section eight, article two, chapter thirty-one-a of this code.
(a) The commissioner may deny the grant of a license or renewal of a license for a failure to comply or otherwise meet the requirements and qualifications of this article or a rule adopted under this article, including failure to submit a complete application.
(b) The denial of a license or denial of renewal by the commissioner and the appeal from that action are governed by the procedures for a contested case hearing under the provisions of article five, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code and shall conform to that provided for financial institutions pursuant to sections one and two, article eight, chapter thirty-one-a of this code and the rules thereunder.
(c) Whenever the commissioner refuses to issue a license, or refuses to renew a license, he or she shall make and enter an order to that effect and shall cause a copy of the order to be served in person or by certified mail, return receipt requested, or in any other manner in which process in a civil action in this state may be served, on the applicant or licensee, as the case may be.
The commissioner may propose rules necessary to implement this article for legislative approval in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code.
(a) The commissioner may issue a license to an applicant only upon first determining that the financial condition, business experience, and character and general fitness of an applicant are such that the issuance of the license is in the public interest.
(b) An applicant for a license shall agree in writing to comply with the currency reporting and record-keeping requirements of 31 U.S.C. §5313, as well as those set forth in 31 C.F.R. Chapter X and any other relevant federal law.
(c) A person is not eligible for a license or shall surrender an existing license if, during the previous ten years:
(1) The person or a principal of the person, if a business:
(A) Has been convicted of a felony or a crime involving fraud, deceit, or moral turpitude under the laws of this state, any other state, or the United States;
(B) Has been convicted of a crime under the laws of another country that involves fraud, deceit, or moral turpitude or would be a felony if committed in the United States; or
(C) Has been convicted under a state or federal law relating to currency exchange or transmission or any state or federal monetary instrument reporting requirement; or
(2) The person, a principal of the person, or the spouse of the person or a principal of the person has been convicted of an offense under a state or federal law relating to drug trafficking, money laundering, or a reporting requirement of the Bank Secrecy Act, 12 U.S.C. § 1951 et seq., as amended.
(d) The commissioner will review the application to determine whether the applicant:
(1) Has recklessly failed to file or evaded the obligation to file a currency transaction report as required by 31 U.S.C. §5313 during the previous three years;
(2) Has recklessly accepted currency for exchange, transport, or transmission during the previous three years in which a portion of the currency was derived from an illegal transaction or activity;
(3) Will conduct its authorized business within the bounds of state and federal law, including, but not limited to, section 1501, article fifteen, chapter thirty-one-d of this code;
(4) Warrants the trust of the community;
(5) Has and will maintain a minimum tangible net worth of $50,000 computed according to generally accepted accounting principles as shown by the most recent audited financial statement filed with and satisfactory to the commissioner, and in addition has and will maintain a minimum tangible net worth of $25,000, computed according to generally accepted accounting principles for each office or delegate location other than its principal office at which its licensed business is transacted, except that an applicant for a license or renewal of a license may not be required by this article to maintain a tangible net worth of more than $1 million, computed according to generally accepted accounting principles; and
(6) Does not owe delinquent taxes, fines, or fees to any local or state taxing authority or governmental agency, department, or other political subdivision of this state.
(e) A person is not eligible for a license, and a person who holds a license shall surrender the license to the commissioner, if the person or a principal of the person has at any time been convicted of:
(1) A felony involving the laundering of money that is the product of or proceeds from criminal activity under chapter sixty-one of this code, or a similar provision of the laws of another state or the United States; or
(2) A felony violation of 31 U.S.C. §5313 or 5324, or a rule adopted under those sections.
(f) Before approving an application for a license of an applicant who has less than one year's experience in the proposed business governed by this article as a regulated entity in another state, or whose license has been suspended or revoked by another state, the commissioner may, in his or her discretion, conduct an on-site investigation of an applicant at the sole expense of the applicant and may require the applicant to pay a nonrefundable payment of the anticipated expenses for conducting the investigation. Failure to make the payment or cooperate with the investigation is grounds for denying the application.
The commissioner may refuse to grant a license or may suspend or revoke a license if the applicant or licensee fails to provide information required by section four, article two, chapter thirty-one-a of this code, or other information sought by the commissioner relevant to conducting an adequate criminal background check.
(a) A person who is licensed under this article shall post a bond with a qualified surety company doing business in this state that is acceptable to the commissioner. The bond shall be in the amount of $100,000 for a licensee which issues or sells checks or money orders, or which engages in currency exchange; or $300,000 for a licensee which engages in receiving money for transmission by wire, facsimile or electronic transfer, or which engages in currency transportation. A licensee which engages in multiple types of these activities shall post the higher amount. A merchant obtaining a license solely to engage in the check cashing business not incidental to the main business of the merchant as required by article three of this chapter shall post a bond of $100,000. The bond required by this subsection shall be increased at the time of license renewal by one percent of the annual volume of business the licensee conducts in this state exceeding $10 million rounded to the nearest thousand, as reported by the licensee: Provided, That in no event shall the bond exceed $1 million.
(b) No cash deposit or pledge of cash equivalent in instruments or securities may be accepted in lieu of the bond required by subsection (a) of this section, unless such alternative deposit or pledge was in effect prior to April 1, 2014.
(c) A bond posted by a licensee shall be conditioned upon compliance with the provisions of this article and any rules thereunder for as long as the person holds the license. The deposit or bond, as the case may be, shall be made to the State of West Virginia for the benefit and protection of any claimant against the applicant or licensee with respect to the receipt, handling, transmission, and payment of money by the licensee or authorized delegate in connection with the licensed operations in this state. A claimant damaged by a breach of the conditions of the bond or deposit shall, upon the assent of the commissioner, have a right of action against the bond or deposit for damages suffered thereby and may bring suit directly thereon, or the commissioner may bring suit on behalf of the claimant. The aggregate liability of the surety in no event shall exceed the principal sum of the bond.
(d) A penalty fee under subdivision (5), subsection (a), section five of this article, expenses under section eleven of this article, or a civil penalty under section nineteen of this article may be paid out of and collected from the proceeds of a bond under this section.
(e) After receiving a license, the licensee shall maintain the required bond until five years after it ceases to do business in this state unless all outstanding checks/payment instruments are cleared or covered by the provisions of article eight, chapter thirty-six of this code pertaining to the distribution of unclaimed property which have become operative and are adhered to by the licensee. Notwithstanding this provision, however, the commissioner may permit the bond to be reduced following cessation of business in the state to the extent the amount of the licensee's checks/payment instruments outstanding in this state are reduced.
(f) If the commissioner at any time reasonably determines that the required bond or deposit is insecure, deficient in amount, or exhausted, in whole or in part, he or she may in writing require the filing of a new or supplemental bond in order to secure compliance with this article and may demand compliance with the requirement within thirty days following service on the licensee. The total amount of the bonds required of the licensee may not, however, exceed the $1 million set forth in subsection (a) of this section.
(a) Each licensee is subject to a periodic examination of the licensee's business records by the commissioner at the expense of the licensee. For the purpose of carrying out this article, the commissioner may examine all books, records, papers, or other objects that the commissioner determines are necessary for conducting a complete examination and may also examine under oath any person associated with the license holder, including an officer, director, or employee of the licensee or authorized delegate. Unless it will interfere with the commissioner's duties under this article, reasonable notice shall be given to the licensee and any authorized delegate before any on-site examination visit. If a person required by the commissioner to submit to an examination refuses to permit the examination or to answer any question authorized by this article, the commissioner may suspend the person's license until the examination is completed.
(b) The licensee shall bear the reasonable and necessary per diem and travel expense cost of any on-site examination made pursuant to this section.
(c) A person, for the purpose of evading a reporting or record-keeping requirement of 31 U.S.C. §5313, or 31 C.F.R. Chapter X, or by this article, or a rule adopted under this article, may not with respect to a transaction with a licensee:
(1) Cause or attempt to cause the licensee to:
(A) Not maintain a record or file a report required by a law listed by this subsection; or
(B) Maintain a record or file a report required by a law listed by this subsection that contains a material omission or misstatement of fact; or
(2) Fraudulently structure the transaction.
(d) For the purposes of this article, a person fraudulently structures a transaction if the person conducts or attempts to conduct a transaction in any amount of currency with a licensee in a manner having the purpose of evading a record-keeping or reporting requirement of this article, or of a law or rule listed by subsection (c) of this section, including the division of a single amount of currency into smaller amounts or the conduct of a transaction or series of transactions in amounts equal to or less than the reporting or record-keeping threshold of a law or rule listed by subsection (c) of this section.
(e) A transaction is not required to exceed a record-keeping or reporting threshold of a single licensee on a single day to be a fraudulently structured transaction.
(a) In addition to the examinations required by section eleven of this article, the commissioner is authorized to inspect, examine and audit the books, records, accounts and papers of all licensees and their authorized delegates at times that the circumstances in his or her opinion may warrant. Unless it will interfere with the commissioner's duties under this article, reasonable notice shall be given to an authorized delegate or licensee before any on-site examination visit. However, an authorized delegate is deemed to consent to the commissioner's inspection, with or without prior notice to the licensee or authorized delegate, of the books and records of the authorized delegate when the commissioner has a reasonable basis to believe that the licensee or authorized delegate is in noncompliance with this article. The commissioner may call for and require any data, reports or information from any licensees under his or her jurisdiction at any time, and in the form, content and detail the commissioner determines to be necessary in the faithful discharge of his or her duty.
(b) In connection with the investigations undertaken pursuant to this article, the commissioner is authorized to issue subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum, administer oaths, examine persons under oath, and hold and conduct hearings, with any subpoenas or subpoenas duces tecum to be issued, served and enforced in the manner provided in section one, article five, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code. Any person appearing and testifying at the hearing may be accompanied by an attorney.
(a) A licensee shall notify the commissioner of any change in its principal place of business, or its headquarters office if different from its principal place of business, within fifteen days after the date of the change.
(b) A licensee shall notify the commissioner of any of the following significant developments within fifteen days after gaining actual notice of its occurrence:
(1) The filing of bankruptcy or for reorganization under the bankruptcy laws;
(2) The institution of any enforcement action including, but not limited to, a license revocation or suspension against the licensee by any other state or federal regulator;
(3) A felony indictment related to money transmission, currency exchange, fraud, failure to fulfill a fiduciary duty or other activities of the type regulated under this article of the licensee or its authorized delegates in this state, or of the licensee's or authorized delegate's officers, directors or principals;
(4) A felony conviction or plea related to the money transmission, currency exchange, fraud, failure to fulfill a fiduciary duty or other activities of the type regulated under this article of the licensee or its authorized delegates in this state, or of the licensee's or authorized delegate's officers, directors or principals; and
(5) Any change in its business activities.
(c) A licensee shall notify the commissioner of any merger or acquisition which may result in a change of control or a change in principals of a licensee at least sixty days prior to the announcement or publication of the proposal, or its occurrence, whichever is earlier. Upon notice of these circumstances by a corporate licensee, the commissioner may require all information necessary to determine whether it results in a transfer or assignment of the license and thus if a new application is required in order for the company to continue doing business under this article. A licensee that is an entity other than a corporation shall in these circumstances submit a new application for licensure at the time of notice.
(d) The commissioner may direct that the reports required by this section and any other reports, data or information deemed necessary by the commissioner be filed directly with the Division of Financial Institutions on a date to be determined by the commissioner or through the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry operated by the State Regulatory Registry, LLC.
(a) A licensee shall keep its business books, accounts, and records in accordance with generally accepted accounting principals. A licensee shall retain all of its records of final entry for the period of time as required in section thirty-five, article four, chapter thirty-one-a of this code for banking institutions. The licensee shall also preserve its general ledger, settlement sheets from its authorized delegates, bank statements, and bank reconciliation records for this said same established period of time.
(b) Unless the documents or data therefrom has been transmitted to the licensee for recordation, the licensee shall require its authorized delegates to preserve records relating to its licensed activities for the period set forth in subsection (a) of this section.
(c) Records may be kept using retention technologies, including nonerasable optical disk, as is provided for banking institutions and with the same effect as set forth in section thirty-five, article four, chapter thirty-one-a of this code.
(d) A licensee shall maintain records relating to its business under this article at its principal place of business, or with notice to the commissioner, at another location designated by the licensee. If the records are located outside the state, the licensee at its option shall make them available to the commissioner at a convenient location within this state within seven days, or shall pay the reasonable and necessary expenses for the commissioner or his or her representatives to examine them at the place where they are maintained.
(a) Every check sold by the licensee or its authorized delegates shall bear the name of the licensee and a unique number clearly stamped or imprinted thereon. When an order for the transmission of money results in the issuance of a check, both the order and the check may bear the same number.
(b) The licensee or its authorized delegates shall record the face amount and unique number of its checks upon their sale.
(c) The licensee or its authorized delegates shall record the date on which money was received for transmission, the amount transmitted, the name of the customer and the intended recipient, and the location to which the money was transmitted if specified by the customer. Unless otherwise directed by the customer, the transmission of money or availability of funds shall be made by the licensee or authorized delegate within three business days after the receipt of payment. The customer shall be provided a written receipt sufficient to identify the transaction, the licensee, and the amount.
(d) If the transaction involves the exchange of foreign currency, or the sale of travelers checks denominated in a foreign currency, the licensee or authorized delegate shall record the date of the transaction, the amount of the transaction, and the rate of exchange at the time of transaction. The customer shall be provided a written receipt sufficient to identify the transaction, the licensee, and the amount.
(e) Records required by this section shall be maintained by the licensee or authorized delegate as set forth in section fourteen of this article, and shall be available for examination by the commissioner.
The commissioner, with the assistance of the West Virginia state police, may investigate violations of this article or rules adopted under this article. Based on the investigation, the commissioner or any law-enforcement agency may file a criminal referral with the prosecuting attorney of Kanawha County or with the prosecuting attorney of the county in which a violation is alleged to have occurred. In addition, the commissioner may bring civil actions to enforce the provisions of this article or the rules adopted under this article.
(a) The commissioner shall cooperate with federal and state agencies in discharging the commissioner's responsibilities under this article. The commissioner may:
(1) Arrange for the exchange of information among government officials concerning the regulation of a currency exchange, transportation or transmission business;
(2) Cooperate in and coordinate training programs concerning the regulation of currency exchange, transportation or transmission businesses; and
(3) Assist state and federal agencies in their enforcement and investigatory activities and supply those agencies with documentation and information.
(b) The commissioner may request the assistance of the West Virginia state police in enforcing this article.
(a) A person commits a criminal offense if the person knowingly:
(1) Violates a requirement of this article;
(2) Makes a false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement, representation, or entry in a record or report required under 31 U.S.C. §5313 or 31 C.F.R. Chapter X, or by this article, or a rule adopted under this article; or
(3) Fraudulently structures or attempts to fraudulently structure a transaction in violation of section eleven of this article.
(b) An offense under this section is a felony.
(c) Any officer, director, employee or agent of any licensee or any other person guilty of any felony offense as provided in this section shall, upon conviction thereof, be imprisoned in the penitentiary not less than one nor more than five years and also, in the discretion of the court, may be fined up to $10,000 for each violation. Each transaction in violation of this article and each day that a violation continues is a separate offense.
(a) The commissioner may bring civil actions to enforce this article in the circuit court of Kanawha County or the county in which the violation occurred and seek civil penalties. If, after notice and a hearing, the court finds that a person has violated this article, a rule adopted under this article, or an order of the commissioner issued under this article, the court may order the person to pay to the state a civil penalty. The amount of a civil penalty under this section may not exceed $5,000 for each violation or, in the case of a continuing violation, up to $5,000 for each day that the violation continues. A civil penalty assessed may be collected from the bond required under section ten of this article.
(b) In addition to the authority granted in subsection (a) of this section, the commissioner may by administrative assessment impose a civil penalty of up to $5,000 upon any person he or she believes has violated this article, a rule promulgated under this article, any other law or rule the commissioner is authorized to enforce with respect to persons licensed under this article, or a prior order of the commissioner. For purposes of this subsection, each separate violation is subject to the penalty herein prescribed and, in the case of a continuing violation, a penalty of up to $5,000 may be assessed for each day the violation continues. Any penalty imposed under this subsection may be contested by the licensee pursuant to article five, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code. A civil penalty assessed under this subsection may be collected from the bond required under section ten of this article.
If it appears to the commissioner that a person has committed or is about to commit a violation of this article, a rule promulgated thereunder, or an order of the commissioner, the commissioner may apply to the circuit court of Kanawha County or the county in which the violation occurred for an order enjoining the person from violating or continuing to violate the article, rule, or order and for injunctive or other relief that the nature of the case may require and may, in addition, request the court to assess civil penalties as provided under this article.
(a) The commissioner may enter into consent orders at any time with a person to resolve a matter arising under this article. A consent order shall be signed by the person to whom it is issued and shall indicate agreement to the terms contained in it. A consent order need not constitute an admission by a person that this article or a rule or order issued or promulgated under this article has been violated, nor need it constitute a finding by the commissioner that the person has committed a violation.
(b) Notwithstanding the issuance of a consent order, the commissioner may seek civil or criminal penalties or compromise civil penalties concerning matters encompassed by the consent order unless by its terms the consent order expressly precludes the commissioner from doing so.
(a) If the commissioner, upon information, has cause to believe that a licensee or other person is engaged in practices contrary to this article or the rules adopted under this article, the commissioner may issue an order directing the licensee or person to cease and desist the violation. A cease and desist order is appropriate in any case where the commissioner, upon information, reasonably believes that a principal or the licensee acting through any authorized person has:
(1) Violated or refused to comply with a provision of this article, a rule adopted under this article, or any other law or regulation applicable to a currency exchange, transportation or transmission business, or to the business of check cashing;
(2) Committed a fraudulent practice in the conduct of the licensee's business;
(3) Refused to submit to an examination;
(4) Conducted business in an unsafe or unauthorized manner;
(5) Violated any federal law or regulation pertaining to the business of currency exchange, money transportation or transmission, or the business of check cashing; or
(6) Violated any condition of its license or of any agreement entered into with the commissioner.
(b) The commissioner shall serve notice and a copy of the cease and desist order on the affected party either personally or by certified mail, return receipt requested. Service by mail shall be deemed completed if the notice is deposited in the post office, postage prepaid, addressed to the last known address for a licensee or the person designated by the licensee to accept service in this state.
(c) The order shall include a statement of the alleged conduct of the licensee or principal which gave rise to the order, and set forth the facts and law on which it is based.
(d) A person is entitled to a hearing on the cease and desist order before the commissioner, or a hearing examiner appointed by him or her, if the person files with the commissioner a written demand for hearing within ten days after receiving written notice of the order, or within thirty days after the date of service, whichever occurs first. A person's right to a hearing as provided by this subsection shall be disclosed in the notice of service.
(e) Hearings and judicial review of any order shall be under procedures provided in sections one and two, article eight, chapter thirty-one-a of this code and procedural rules thereunder.
(f) The issuance of a cease and desist order under this section shall not be a prerequisite to the taking of any action by the commissioner or others under any other section of this article.
Except in cases of gross negligence or intentional acts that result in harm to a person, a licensee's responsibility to a person for a money transmission conducted on that person's behalf by the licensee or the licensee's authorized delegate is limited to the amount of money transmitted or the face amount of the payment instrument purchased.
(a) Reports of investigation and examination, together with related documents and financial information not normally available to the public that is submitted in confidence by a person regulated under this article, including, but not limited to, that person's evaluation of the expected outcome of pending litigation, are confidential and may not be disclosed to the public by the commissioner or employees of the Division of Banking, and are not subject to the state's freedom of information act. The commissioner may release information if:
(1) The commissioner finds that immediate and irreparable harm is threatened to the licensee's customers or potential customers or the general public;
(2) The licensee consents before the release;
(3) The commissioner finds that release of the information is required in connection with a hearing under this article, in which event information may be related to the parties of that hearing; or
(4) The commissioner finds that the release is reasonably necessary for the protection of the public and in the interest of justice, in which event information may be distributed to representatives of an agency, department or instrumentality of this state, any other state or the federal government.
(b) Nothing in this section prevents release to the public of any list of licensees or aggregated financial data for the licensees, prevents disclosure of information the presiding officer considers relevant to the proper adjudication or administration of justice at public administrative or judicial hearings, or prevents disclosure of information relevant to supporting the issuance of any administrative or judicial order.
(a) A license may not be revoked or suspended except after notice and opportunity for hearing on that action. The commissioner may issue to a person licensed under this article an order to show cause why the license should not be revoked, or should not be suspended for a period not in excess of six months. The order shall state the place for a hearing and set a time for the hearing that is no less than ten days from the date of the order. The hearing shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of article five, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code. The commissioner may appoint a hearing examiner to preside at the hearing and make a recommended decision. After the hearing the commissioner shall revoke or suspend the license if he or she finds that:
(1) The licensee has knowingly or repeatedly violated this chapter or any rule or order lawfully made or issued pursuant to this article;
(2) The licensee has failed to remit its required renewal fees;
(3) Facts or conditions exist which would clearly have justified the commissioner in refusing to grant a license had these facts or conditions been known to exist at the time the application for the license was made;
(4) The licensee does not have available the net worth required by the provisions of section eight of this article, and after ten days' written notice from the commissioner, fails to take steps that the commissioner determines are necessary to remedy the deficiency; or
(5) The licensee has failed or refused to keep the bond or other security required by section ten of this article in full force and effect.
(b) No revocation or suspension of a license under this article is lawful unless prior to institution of proceedings by the commissioner notice is given to the licensee of the facts or conduct which warrant the intended action and the licensee is given an opportunity to show compliance with all lawful requirements for retention of the license.
(c) If the commissioner finds that probable cause for revocation of a license exists and that enforcement of this article to prevent imminent harm to public welfare requires immediate suspension of the license pending investigation, the commissioner may, after a hearing upon five days' written notice, enter an order suspending the license for not more than thirty days.
(d) Nothing in this section limits the authority of the commissioner to take action against a licensee or person under other sections of this article.
(e) Whenever the commissioner revokes or suspends a license, an order to that effect shall be entered and the commissioner shall forthwith notify the licensee of the revocation or suspension. Within five days after the entry of the order the commissioner shall mail by registered or certified mail, or shall provide for personal delivery to the licensee, a copy of the order and the findings supporting the order.
(f) Any person holding a license under this article may relinquish the license by notifying the commissioner in writing of its relinquishment, but any relinquishment does not affect a person's liability for acts previously committed.
(g) No revocation, suspension or relinquishment of a license impairs or affects the obligation of any preexisting lawful contract between the licensee and any person.
(h) The commissioner may reinstate a license, terminate a suspension or grant a new license to a person whose license has been revoked or suspended if no fact or condition then exists which clearly would have justified the commissioner in refusing to grant a license.
(a) A licensee who advertises the prices to be charged by the currency exchange or currency transmission business for services that are governed by this article shall specifically state in the advertisement all fees or commissions to be charged to the consumer.
(b) The commissioner may propose for legislative approval rules establishing requirements for the size and type of lettering a licensee is permitted to use in an advertisement for prices or rates.
(c) A person who violates this section or a rule adopted under this section commits an unfair and deceptive act or practice within the meaning of section one hundred four, article six, chapter forty-six-a of this code.
(d) A corporate licensee may not use the same name as, or a name deceptively similar to, the name of any domestic corporation existing under the laws of this state, or the name of any foreign corporation authorized to transact business in this state, except as otherwise provided by the commissioner or Secretary of State pursuant to law.
(a) A licensee may conduct the business of money transmission and currency exchange regulated by this article at one or more locations through authorized delegates designated by the licensee to conduct business on its behalf.
(b) A licensee may not knowingly authorize a person to act as its delegate who has, within the previous ten years, a disqualifying criminal conviction of the type set forth in subdivision (2), subsection (c), section eight of this article.
(c) A licensee shall enter into a contract with its authorized delegate detailing the nature and scope of the relationship between the licensee and the authorized delegate. The contract shall require that the authorized delegate operate in full compliance with the laws of this state and of the United States. The licensee shall, upon request, provide the commissioner with the sample written contract.
(d) The financial responsibility of a licensee for the actions of its authorized delegate shall not exceed the amount of funds received by the authorized delegate on behalf of its licensee for the business regulated under this article.
(e) An authorized delegate has an affirmative duty not to: (i) Commit fraud or misrepresentation; or (ii) submit fraudulent statements to the licensee. A licensee shall promptly report to the commissioner and to any other appropriate state or federal official when it has probable cause to believe that an authorized delegate has violated the affirmative duty set forth in this subsection.
(f) The licensee shall require the authorized delegate to hold in trust for the licensee from the moment of receipt of the proceeds of any business transacted under this article in an amount equal to the amount of proceeds due the licensee less the amount due the authorized delegate. The funds shall remain the property of the licensee whether or not commingled by the authorized delegate with its own funds. In the event that the license is revoked by the commissioner, all proceeds held in trust by the authorized delegate of that licensee are considered to be assigned to the commissioner. If an authorized delegate fails to remit funds to the licensee in accordance with the time specified in the contract with the licensee, the licensee may bring a civil action against the authorized delegate for three times the actual damages. The commissioner may by rule set a maximum remittance time for authorized delegates.
(g) An authorized delegate shall report to the licensee the theft or loss of payment instruments within twenty-four hours from the time the authorized delegate knew or should have known of the theft or loss.
(h) Upon any suspension or revocation of a license, the failure of a licensee to renew a license, or the denial of the renewal of a license, the licensee shall notify its authorized delegates of the event and demand that they immediately cease operations as authorized delegates.
(i) A licensee shall report the removal of an authorized delegate location, or the termination of operations of an authorized delegate location, to the commissioner on a quarterly basis, and shall in the report list any new authorized delegate locations in this state.
(j) No authorized delegate shall act outside its scope of authority as defined under this article and by its contract with the licensee to act on behalf of the licensee with regard to any transaction regulated by this article.
(a) The commissioner may issue an order suspending an authorized delegate, or barring a person from becoming an authorized delegate of any licensee, during the period for which the order is in effect. Upon issuance of the order, the licensee shall terminate its relationship with the authorized delegate according to the terms of the order. Orders may be issued if, after notice and a hearing, the commissioner finds that any authorized delegate of a licensee or any administrator, officer, employee or principal of the authorized delegate:
(1) Has violated a provision of this article or of any rule or order issued under this article;
(2) Has engaged in or participated in an unsafe or unsound act with respect to the business of selling or issuing payment instruments of the licensee or the business of money transmission; or
(3) Has made or caused to be made in any application or report filed with the commissioner or in any proceeding before the commissioner a statement that was, at the time and in the circumstances under which it was made, false or misleading with respect to any material fact, or has omitted to state in the application or report a material fact required to be stated.
(b) An authorized delegate to whom an order is issued under this section may apply to the commissioner to modify or rescind the order. The commissioner may not grant the application unless the commissioner finds that it is in the public interest to do so and that it is reasonable to believe that the person will comply with all applicable provisions of this chapter and of any rule and order issued under this chapter if the order is modified or rescinded.
(c) The right of a person to whom an order is issued under this section to petition for judicial review of an order is not affected by the failure of the person to apply to the commissioner to modify or rescind the order.
(a) A merchant primarily in the business of making retail consumer sales may offer check cashing services at its stores to accommodate its customers in the course of said business, and may collect a fee for the service, if the check cashing service and any fees charged are incidental to the main business of the merchant. Except as set forth in subsection (b) of this section, the term "check cashing services" does not include a transaction where a customer presents a check for the exact amount of a purchase. Fees charged in connection with check cashing services may not exceed the greater of $1, or one percent of the face value of the check cashed.
(b) Merchants may not, in connection with providing check cashing services, agree to hold checks submitted to them for deposit at a later date for the purpose of providing a loan of money and deriving profit therefrom.
(c) No license is required as a condition for a merchant providing check cashing services in conformity with subsections (a) and (b) of this section.
(d) Where a merchant derives more than five percent of his or her gross revenues from cashing checks, the check cashing services are not considered incidental to the main business of the merchant, and the merchant is required to be licensed under article two of this chapter.
(e) Persons holding a license pursuant to article two of this chapter may in conjunction with their licensed business, or other lawful business, engage in the business of check cashing in West Virginia. Fees charged for check cashing services by a licensee under article two of this chapter shall be posted and conform to those permitted merchants under this section. No licensee may in connection with providing check cashing services agree to hold checks submitted to it for deposit at a later date for the purpose of providing a loan of money and deriving profit therefrom.
(f) Federally-insured depository institutions, foreign bank agencies, and governmental entities exempt from licensure as money transmitters under this chapter are exempt from the provisions of this article. Other financial institutions licensed by and under the jurisdiction of the commissioner of banking may upon written approval engage in the check cashing business permitted merchants under this article.
(g) Except as provided or allowed by this article, no person may engage in the check cashing business. As used in this article the term "check cashing business" means any person who engages in the business of cashing checks, including drafts, money orders, or other instruments for the transmission or payment of money for a fee. However, the term "check" as used in this article does not include a travelers check or a foreign denomination check.
No merchant or person subject to this article may obstruct or refuse to permit any lawful investigation into their check cashing activities by the commissioner of banking, a person acting on behalf of an agency of the state or political subdivision thereof, or a law-enforcement officer.
(a) The charging of fees for check cashing services in excess of those permitted under this article gives rise to a cause of action by the injured party to recover twice the actual damages suffered by reason of the violation.
(b) The charging of fees for check cashing services in violation of the provisions of subsections (b) or (e), section one of this article, prohibiting lending through a check cashing transaction, constitutes prohibited finance charges, and gives rise to a cause of action by the party upon whom the charge was imposed to recover all fees paid and all actual damages suffered by reason of the violation. Where the transaction is of an amount and for purposes that would constitute a consumer loan, the conduct of impermissible check cashing services is considered an unfair and deceptive act and may be subject to provisions and penalties set forth in chapter forty-six-a of this code.
(c) Engaging in the check cashing business without the license required by this article gives rise to a cause of action by the injured party to recover all fees paid and all actual damages suffered by reason of the violation.
(d) Actions brought under this article by customers for recovery of actual damages shall be brought within one year of the occurrence of the transaction.
If any merchant or person is in violation of this article, the commissioner of banking or other appropriate law-enforcement officer may apply to the circuit court of Kanawha County or the county in which the violation occurred for an order enjoining the merchant or person from violating or continuing to violate the article, rule, or order and for injunctive or other relief that the nature of the case may require. The authority to seek injunctions under this section is cumulative with any other enforcement right accruing under other provisions of law and this code.