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Fed penalizes Evolve Bank for failing to manage fintech partnership risk

FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Board building in Washington

By Hannah Lang and Pete Schroeder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve announced Friday it had ordered Evolve Bancorp Inc to bolster its risk management programs around fintech partnerships as well as anti-money laundering laws.

The Fed said in a statement that a 2023 examination of the Arkansas-based bank found insufficient policies in place.

It added that the new enforcement action, which did not come with a fine, was independent from bankruptcy proceedings regarding Synapse Financial Technologies, Inc., which the bank had partnered with.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Evolve said that the order is "similar to orders received by others in the industry" and does not affect its existing business, customers or depositors.

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"Evolve remains well-capitalized and continues to show strong growth across all business lines," the spokesperson said.

Synapse - a middleman between banks and fintech companies - filed for bankruptcy in April, leading to the freezing of accounts for customers of its partners, including Evolve.

It is still unclear how many people had accounts frozen as a result of Synapse's bankruptcy, but regulators have estimated that it could be as high as tens of thousands.

A court-appointed trustee in the bankruptcy case said last week that there is an $85 million shortfall between Synapse's partner banks and what depositors are owed.

(Reporting by Hannah Lang in New York and Pete Schroeder in Washington; Editing by Andrea Ricci)