Reaching out to credit unions and other community financial institutions is among 2011’s goals, according to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s just-released 2010 annual report.
The Treasury Department unit is in charge of administering the Bank Secrecy Act and financial intelligence gathering activities, including anti-money laundering. Its jurisdiction comprises more than 100,000 banks, credit unions, money services businesses, securities brokers, casinos, mutual funds, precious metal dealers and others.
FinCEN has about 325 employees and uses the services of the IRS and other federal and state regulators to help with examinations. The bureau also is continuing its direct outreach, meeting with financial institution executives to help them "increase understanding of the challenges that industry faces in meeting BSA requirements and fighting financial crime."
After starting face-to-face meetings with the largest banks in 2009, the outreach has now reached community banks and credit unions, with the intent of helping them and the bureau better comply with BSA and AML "Red Flag" and other rules, its director said.
"The more that we can work together with the industry, the more it serves our joint goals," said FinCEN Director James Freis Jr. "This is particularly applicable to ‘know-your-customer’ programs. Knowing your customers, their needs, desired outcomes and the source of their money should not be gained in a vacuum of regulatory requirements, but as part of better service to those customers."
The 96-page report includes the year’s highlights, such as the record $110 million civil penalty levied against Wachovia Bank over its efforts to effectively monitor more than $420 billion in foreign financial transactions for potential money laundering.
The report also includes demographics of its own staff – for instance, it’s almost evenly split between men and women – and links to FinCEN reports during the year on such topics as mortgage loan fraud and suspicious activity reports.
It also includes such tidbits as the fact the agency donated 61 computer monitors, 15 laptops and more than 3,900 pounds of other electronic equipment to recycling efforts, helping the Treasury Department win an environmental award.
The 96-page report is available at www.fincen.gov.