Reed Smith News Flashes

The Biden administration continues to take additional steps to attack financial crime and is now focusing on anti-money laundering efforts. On December 14, 2021, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury (the Treasury) issued a request for information seeking comments on ways to streamline and update the existing Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) anti-money laundering regulations. In line with the Treasury’s initiative, while speaking at the Summit for Democracy event on December 9, 2021, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen promised to stem money laundering abuses and pronounced that the United States is arguably the “best place to hide and launder ill-gotten gains.” The Treasury’s efforts to enhance its anti-money laundering program come amid broader anti-corruption initiatives from the Biden administration, which, as we’ve discussed previously, have made global anti-corruption, including money laundering, a core national security priority

The 26 questions in Tuesday’s request seek information on how FinCEN can better identify and respond to financial crime threats, ensure that BSA reporting and recordkeeping requirements are highly effective in identifying and countering financial crimes and are not outdated or redundant, and improve efficiency in identifying such threats in light of innovative approaches and new technologies. According to the request, “FinCEN is particularly interested in new and innovative approaches to [BSA] compliance that promote a risk-based approach to protecting the financial system from threats to national security posed by various forms of financial crime.”

Comments received in response to Tuesday’s request could lead to new or amended rules and requirements. In addition, they will support FinCEN’s “ongoing formal review” of BSA regulations and guidance required under the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 and will inform a related report that Secretary Yellen must submit to Congress by January 1, 2022. We will continue to keep you updated on the Treasury’s new and increased focus on anti-money laundering efforts.

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