FinCEN Launches Info Exchange With FIs

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has started a new information-exchange program with financial institutions, according to an announcement from the Treasury Department. 

The program, called FinCEN Exchange, will hold regular briefings with financial institutions and law enforcement to trade information about pressing illicit finance threats. The idea is to get better at identifying risks and focusing on high-priority issues that help fight money laundering and other financial crimes, according to FinCEN. Participation is voluntary and doesn’t create any new regulatory requirements, it noted.

“Strong public-private partnerships and two-way information sharing is a crucial component of our efforts to combat the sophisticated money laundering methods and evolving threats we face today,” Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker said. “FinCEN Exchange will bring together law enforcement, FinCEN and different types of financial institutions from across the country to share information that can help identify vulnerabilities and disrupt terrorist financing, proliferation financing and other financial crimes.”

Currently, financial institutions use tools such as Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) and Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs) to help report financial crimes. That information is redistributed in the form of FinCEN advisories, SAR statistical reports, briefings and other communications, according to the agency.

FinCEN said it has been piloting FinCEN Exchange with various entities for some time.

“Since 2015, FinCEN has convened over a dozen special briefings in five cities with over 40 financial institutions and multiple law enforcement agencies. In connection with these briefings, FinCEN, working closely with law enforcement, issues requests pursuant to Section 314(a) of the USA Patriot Act related to investigations and provides associated financial typologies,” the agency reported.

“Information provided after the briefings by financial institutions through SARs has helped the public sector map out and target weapons proliferators, sophisticated global money laundering operations, human trafficking and smuggling rings, corruption and trade-based money laundering networks, among other illicit actors. The briefings also have proved useful to financial institutions, helping them focus on specific priorities and better identify risks,” it added.

As part of FinCEN Exchange, FinCEN will hold the briefings so on a more regular schedule — approximately once every six to eight weeks, according to a speech by Under Secretary Mandelker at the American Bankers Association & American Bar Association Financial Crimes Enforcement Conference on Monday. 

“Let me be absolutely clear — this program is not intended to add a regulatory burden on your financial institutions. We are not imposing any new requirements,” Mandelker said. “To the contrary, we think this type of information sharing will strengthen your compliance programs by enhancing your ability to focus on high priority issues. After all, a key part of our goal in improving the AML framework is to ensure that your resources are devoted to high-value, high-impact activities. It also does not replace or otherwise affect in any way existing mechanisms for law enforcement to engage on its own with the private sector. 

“Our enhanced focus on public-private partnership is just one element in our effort to combat financial crime and root illicit actors out of our financial system,” Mandelker added.

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