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FinCEN Launches Division to Identify Foreign Money Laundering Threats


The US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has launched a new division dedicated to international money laundering investigations and its use of “special measures” under the USA Patriot Act. 

The bureau’s Global Investigations Division (GID), announced Wednesday, will oversee the implementation of “targeted investigation strategies,” including its utilization of powers granted by Sec. 311 of the Patriot Act, FinCEN said. Under the 2001 law, FinCEN has the authority to deem a financial institution or country to be a “primary money laundering concern.”

The Sec. 311 designation, or simply the threat of adopting such the designation, can have a crippling effect on targeted financial institutions, which can consequently lose access to correspondent banking accounts and other financial services. 

The new division, which will be headed by former US Justice Department official Matthew Stiglitz, will also be responsible for the bureau’s data-collection efforts related to geographic targeting orders and foreign financial agency regulation authorities, FinCEN said. 

“FinCEN will greatly benefit from Matthew’s experience, leadership and management skills,” said bureau chief Kenneth Blanco, in a statement. “We are excited to have him on our team as we stand up GID to further focus FinCEN’s investigative efforts to protect our nation and its people from harm.”

In addition to identifying global money laundering networks, the division will also be tasked with detecting and deterring threats “that have a nexus to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, rogue state actors, transnational organized crime, international narcotics trafficking and terrorism,” the bureau said. 

Since 2003, FinCEN has published a notice of proposed rulemaking for “primary money laundering concern” designations 26 times, though the bureau has formally imposed the sanction through a final rule in only nine instances. 

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