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BSA Compliance is Essential Part of Fighting Crime
Wednesday, May 13, 2015 6:10 AM

Anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) compliance is an essential part of the strategic landscape used by governments fighting against threats, such as the group calling themselves the Islamic State, a U.S. Treasury official told international bankers last week.

Jennifer Shasky Calvery, director of the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), said that financial institution reporting is key to the Treasury's efforts.

"Today more than ever, financial institutions play a pivotal role in helping us make sense of this picture," she said. "The reports your institutions file with FinCEN provide the U.S. government with valuable insight into financial activity in areas where al-Qaida, ISIL, and other terrorist groups operate."

She added that financial institutions have greatly assisted the Treasury's efforts to disrupt ISIL's revenue streams, deny the group that calls itself the Islamic State access to the international financial system and impose sanctions on ISIL leadership and financial facilitators.

According to FinCEN, the Treasury processes approximately 50,000 new filings each day, and has implemented specified screenings to identify possible terrorist links. Thus far, FinCEN investigations have revealed a number of notable transactions, including suspicious petroleum purchases and transfers involving companies suspected of previous activity.

Speaking at the West Coast AML Forum Wednesday, Calvery added addition information on FinCEN's investigatory scope as it pertains to domestic issues.

One notable trend has been money laundering through real estate, which is the use of shell companies (formed simply to hold property or funds) to purchase high-value real estate.

"FinCEN continues to see the use of shell companies by international corrupt politicians, drug traffickers and other criminals to purchase luxury residential real estate in cash," she said. "Our information shows funds transfers in the form of wire transfers originating from banks in offshore havens at which accounts have been established in the name of the shell companies."