Dirty-Money Law Just a Starting Point

By Sorcher, Alan E. | American Banker, November 9, 2001 | Go to article overview
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Dirty-Money Law Just a Starting Point


Sorcher, Alan E., American Banker


The anti-money-laundering requirements signed into law recently by President Bush should assist law enforcement in tracking and cutting off the flow of funds to terrorist organizations.

The law's provisions mark a new public-private partnership in the fight against money laundering and terrorism.

The Treasury Secretary can now impose restrictions on any foreign jurisdiction, financial institution operating outside the United States, or type of account or international transaction that the secretary determines to be "a primary money-laundering concern." This new authority appropriately directs industry and government resources only to those areas that pose laundering threats.

The new law also requires more cooperation between government and the financial services industry: Law enforcement agencies must share information about individuals who may be involved in terrorist activity or money laundering; regulators must provide a report to the industry to help identify patterns of suspicious activity; and financial institutions are given the ability to notify authorities in "real time." Other provisions permit institutions to share information about suspicious activity.

These measures build on existing requirements that enable the government to better identify and combat money laundering. Until now broker-dealers, like other financial institutions, were governed by the record keeping and reporting requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act and other general prohibitions.

The new legislation requires that all financial institutions establish anti-laundering programs, and that broker-dealers formally file suspicious activity reports, but these practices have been common in the securities industry.

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