FinCEN Warns Financial Institutions to Guard Against Corrupt Venezuelan Money Flowing to U.S.

Steve Hudak
Immediate Release

WASHINGTON–The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) today issued an advisory to alert financial institutions of widespread public corruption in Venezuela and the methods Venezuelan senior political figures and their associates may use to move and hide proceeds of their corruption. The advisory also describes a number of financial red flags to assist in identifying and reporting suspicious activity that may be indicative of corruption.

“In recent years, financial institutions have reported to FinCEN their suspicions regarding many transactions suspected of being linked to Venezuelan public corruption, including government contracts,” said Acting FinCEN Director Jamal El-Hindi. “Not all transactions involving Venezuela involve corruption, but, particularly now, during a period of turmoil in that country, financial institutions need to continue their vigilance to help identify and stop the flow of corrupt proceeds and guard against money laundering and other illicit financial activity.”

Venezuela faces severe economic and political circumstances due to the rupture of democratic and constitutional order. Endemic corruption can further damage the country’s economic growth and stability. The red flags identified in this FinCEN advisory are intended to help financial institutions differentiate between illicit and legitimate transactions. Ongoing vigilance by the financial community, including continued reporting of suspicious transactions as informed by this advisory, can also support law enforcement in identifying and investigating potentially illicit funds from Venezuela entering the U.S. financial system.

Financial institutions should take risk-based steps to identify and limit any exposure they may have to funds and other assets associated with Venezuelan public corruption. Consistent with a risk-based approach, however, financial institutions should be aware that normal business and other transactions involving Venezuelan nationals and businesses do not necessarily represent the same risk as transactions and relationships identified as being connected to the Venezuelan government.