Saying that credit unions were “not established to review and evaluate the legality of their members’ behavior,” NAFCU endorsed amendments that would require law enforcement agencies to initiate requests for suspicious activity reports.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is trying to offer the amendment to a four-year extension of the Patriot Act, which the Senate and House are trying to complete work on this week. Two sections of the measure, which was passed to give the government more power to combat terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, were set to expire Thursday night.
The amendment would shift the burden for generating SARs to law enforcement agencies who would request them from credit unions and other financial institutions. Currently, financial institutions have to automatically generate these reports, which many complain is a severe regulatory burden.
Credit unions filed 62,630 SARs in 2009, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network reported last summer, about 5,000 more than the year before.
“The Patriot Act shifted the responsibility of determining suspicious activity from trained law enforcement officials to credit union employees whose primary responsibility should be meeting the financial needs of their members,’’ NAFCU Executive Vice President B. Dan Berger wrote in a letter to the Senate leaders, copies of which were sent to all senators.