Since the Bureau’s establishment in 1990, FinCEN has played a significant role in the U.S. Government’s efforts to combat transnational organized crime. FinCEN carries out its mission by providing investigative support to law enforcement, intelligence, and regulatory agencies, cooperating globally with counterpart financial intelligence units (FIUs), and using its regulatory authorities to make it more difficult for organized criminal groups to move money through the financial system. FinCEN supports the Department of the Treasury’s efforts to promote the adoption of international standards involving anti-money laundering and the counter-financing of terrorism (AML/CFT), including through the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) where FinCEN led the delegation from 1994 through 1998. The National Security Council identified FinCEN as one of 34 Federal entities that it considered as having a significant role in the fight against international crime as noted in an August 2001 Government Accountability Office report.
FinCEN serves as the FIU of the United States; an FIU is the central agency within a jurisdiction responsible for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating financial information in furtherance of law enforcement investigations and prosecutions. FinCEN revolutionized the international tracking of transnational criminals through data sharing by joining with several other jurisdictions’ FIUs to found the Egmont Group in 1995. At its founding, the Egmont Group focused on the establishment of FIUs. Today’s Egmont Group is concentrating on the operational exchange of information to help law enforcement officials investigate and prosecute transnational organized crime. The important role that FIUs play has been recognized in the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, which recommends that every country establish an FIU.
FinCEN also exercises its authority under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act, which allows for the imposition of special measures for jurisdictions, financial institutions, or international transactions of primary money laundering concern. The section allows for identifying customers using correspondent accounts, including obtaining information comparable to information obtained on domestic customers and prohibiting or imposing conditions on the opening or maintaining in the United States of correspondent or payable-through accounts for a foreign banking institution. Section 311 actions are only used after careful consideration and research. These actions are always well founded and the consequence of egregious financial crime sometimes involving terrorist finance and transnational organized crime. As these actions have shown, Section 311 has proven to have a very significant impact on targeted financial institutions.
FinCEN recognizes that financial crime is a global phenomenon, transcending geographical borders. Partnerships with other nations and international bodies are essential in the detection of criminal proceeds. In the coming decades, FinCEN will continue to work toward achieving greater transparency in the global financial system, combat the ever-evolving nature of transnational organized crime, and raise global awareness of AML/CFT issues.
- Prepared Remarks of James H. Freis, Jr., Director Financial Crimes Enforcement Network delivered at the 2011 Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Conference in Sydney, Australia (11/07/2011) HTML | PDF
- Report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: Estimating illicit financial flows resulting from drug trafficking and other transnational organized crimes (October 2011) HTML Only
Key Events in the Fight against Transnational Organized Crime