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FinCEN Recognizes Importance of BSA Compliance Programs
Thursday, May 14, 2015 6:30 AM

A number of law enforcement agencies that use Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) reporting in their investigations were recognized this week by the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). According to FinCEN, the recognition served to show how important BSA compliance programs can be when it comes to obtaining a successful prosecution and collecting concrete evidence. 

“So, where does FinCEN get its data? A key aspect of our mission is to administer and issue regulations pursuant to the BSA,” said Jennifer Shasky Calvery, director of FinCEN. “The BSA requires a broad range of U.S. financial institutions and others to assist U.S. government agencies in the detection and prevention of money laundering. Financial institutions do this by maintaining records and filing reports with FinCEN on suspicious or large cash transactions.”

The law enforcement honorees were recognized for stopping everything from Ponzi schemes to money laundering to organized crime and cyber threats. Law enforcement entities such as the Boston Police Department, U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and U.S. Attorney’s Office were able to use that information.

For example, suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed by more than 20 financial institutions regarding a Costa Rican company Liberty Reserve was able to show the company was allowing credit information, child pornography, stolen consumer data and other contraband to be exchanged anonymously.

At CUNA’s BSA Conference last fall, Widget FCU of Erie, Pennsylvania, showed how following up on a few suspicious account openings led to the FBI cracking one of the largest fraud cases in history. The case involved more than $20 million in fake IRS refunds and thousands of stolen identities used to open accounts at more than 600 financial institutions. The FBI and IRS directly credited diligent SAR filing, and the subsequent collection of information by Widget FCU staff, for unraveling the conspiracy.