Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Director Kenneth A. Blanco told bankers and lawyers at a conference Dec. 10 that the information they report provides important data for agents, analysts and investigative personnel, according to his prepared remarks.
“Those of you in this room need to hear and understand that what you do every day makes a difference,” he said during the American Bankers Association/American Bar Association Financial Crimes Enforcement Conference. “We use the information that you provide to protect our national security, our financial system, our communities, and our families. Your reporting contributes critical information that is routinely analyzed, resulting in the identification of suspected criminal and terrorist activity, and the initiation of investigations.”
Blanco also addressed the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and the importance of beneficial ownership information. And he covered FinCEN’s BSA Value Project, the ongoing federal banking agency working group efforts, and organizational changes within the agency.
The lack of beneficial ownership information collected when companies are formed is “a dangerous and widening gap in our national security apparatus,” he said. “The next critical step to closing this national security gap is collecting beneficial ownership information at the corporate formation stage.”
Blanco added that FinCEN is “committed to working with key stakeholders, including Congress, to find effective, sensible solutions to address this serious and growing gap in our national security.”
The conference is the industry’s longest-running financial crimes conference and the only meeting hosted jointly by top banking and legal associations, according to a press release.
“FinCEN grants more than 12,000 agents, analysts and investigative personnel from over 350 unique federal, state, local and tribal agencies across the United States with direct access to this critical reporting by financial institutions,” Blanco said. “There are approximately 30,000 searches of the BSA data each day.”
Those queries identify an average of 18.2 million filings that are useful to ongoing investigations, and U.S. national security activities, “among many, many other uses that help protect our nation, deter crime and save lives.
In addition, there are over 100 Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) review teams and financial crimes task forces, bringing together prosecutors and investigators from different agencies to review BSA reports.
“Collectively, these teams reviewed approximately 60 percent of all SARs filed,” he said.
In September, Blanco spoke at the 2019 Federal Identity (FedID) Forum and Exposition to talk about digital identity, how safe it is and what the agency is doing to protect it against financial crimes.