WASHINGTON — James Freis, director of Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, outlined earlier today the various uses of information gleaned from suspicious activity and currency transaction reporting.

These filings help primarily in four ways: tipping off suspicious activity; providing identifying information in an ongoing investigation; identifying trends; and deterring criminal behavior or at least making it more difficult. FinCEN's database allows law enforcement to see a wide array of activities that no one institution could detect.

However, credit unions and others complain of the regulatory burden these filings impose. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has announced an "efficiency and effectiveness" initiative, including FinCEN. Freis said, "The first thing we announced is matching risk-based examination to risk-based obligations." FinCEN will also work to narrow the definition of a money services business, business with which imposes additional regulatory burden.

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