Financial Trade Groups Want Anti-Money Laundering Plan Added to Massive Defense Bill

A broad coalition of financial services trade groups, including the Credit Union National Association and the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions, is urging the Senate to include bipartisan Anti-Money Laundering and Bank Secrecy Act legislation in the massive defense authorization bill the Senate will continue debating next week.

Senate Banking Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Id.) and the panel’s ranking Democrat, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, along with several other committee members, have offered an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would update AML/BSA rules.

Adding the AML/BSA amendment to the Senate version of the defense authorization bill could substantially improve the chances of those provisions being enacted, since the massive defense bill is considered must-pass legislation on Capitol Hill.

The Crapo-Brown amendment would require newly created companies and limited liability corporations to send ownership details to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. FinCEN would maintain a non-public database that would be available for law enforcement agencies to use to better track the flow of illicit funds.

Financial institutions currently are required to collect such information.

The proposal also would create a new whistleblower fund for FinCEN and require the Treasury Department to study whether the threshold for filing Suspicious Activity Reports should be increased.

“The bill strikes the right balance between imposing minimal requirements on small businesses and providing critical information to law enforcement and financial institutions,” the trade group coalition wrote in a letter to Senate leaders.

In a separate letter, NAFCU said that the current ownership rules are particularly burdensome for financial institutions and that the amendment would improve things.

Global Financial Integrity, a group that advocates for stiffer anti-corruption laws, said that while the proposal has some problems, it would strengthen anti-money laundering laws.

“GFI research has shown that it is surprisingly easy to form an anonymous company, as more information is required to register for a library card than is needed to form a company in all 50 states and the District of Columbia,” Tom Cardamone, the group’s president/CEO said, in a letter supporting the amendment.

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