FinCEN data sharing yields leads on financial crimes

An information-sharing program that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network administers has provided many leads, some of which have led to indictments, for terrorist financing and money laundering, the Treasury Department said today.

Through Treasury's FinCEN, federal law enforcement agencies can reach more than 29,000 financial institutions to locate accounts and transactions of persons or groups that may be involved in terrorist financing or money laundering.

The information-sharing system provided data for federal law enforcement for 64 terrorism and terrorist financing cases and 124 money laundering cases from February through November. The leads resulted in three indictments, 21 subpoenas, 11 search warrants and 407 grand jury subpoenas.

'This cooperative partnership between the financial community and law enforcement allows disparate bits of information to be identified, centralized and rapidly evaluated,' FinCEN director William Fox said.

The USA Patriot Act gives Treasury the authority to require financial institutions to search recent account and transaction records and report matches of organizations and individuals reasonably suspected of engaging in terrorist financing or money laundering.

Financial institutions file information regarding suspicious activity required under the Bank Secrecy Act over a secure Internet system FinCEN developed called the Patriot Act Communication System. PACS lets financial institutions send secure messages to FinCEN and receive responses.

Law enforcement must provide written certification that names submitted to FinCEN are reasonably suspected based on credible evidence of engaging in terrorist or money laundering activities. Law enforcement certified 1,256 individuals and groups to gain information about their financial transactions to FinCEN, which forwarded the requests to the financial institutions.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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