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FinCEN Announces New “Global Investigations Division” Focused on Foreign Money Laundering Threats

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a press release today, entitled “New FinCEN Division Focuses on Identifying Primary Foreign Money Laundering Threats.”

The announcement states that this new Division will focus on topics about which we have blogged repeatedly:  Section 311 of the USA Patriot Act and threats posed to the financial system by narcotics trafficking and the financing of terrorism.  Pursuant to Section 311, FinCEN is authorized to designate foreign financial institutions as being “of primary money laundering concern” and to take any of five “special measures” against institutions so designated. FinCEN can impose the most severe, fifth special measure—allowing it to prohibit or restrict domestic financial institutions from opening or maintaining correspondent accounts for designated foreign financial institutions—by issuing a regulation under the Administrative Procedures Act.

The announcement also stresses the goal of FinCEN to coordinate more with the financial regulation authorities of other countries, thereby underscoring the increasingly international aspects of anti-money laundering enforcement, as well as financial corruption and money laundering itself.

The press release is relatively short, and so it is set forth below in its entirety:

[FinCEN] has launched its Global Investigations Division (GID), which will be responsible for implementing targeted investigation strategies rooted in FinCEN’s unique authorities under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) to combat illicit finance threats and related crimes, both domestically and internationally.

FinCEN Director Kenneth A. Blanco announced that Matthew Stiglitz, a former Principal Deputy Chief in the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, will lead GID. Mr. Stiglitz brings considerable experience to FinCEN in complex international investigations after spending more than 24 years as a state and Federal prosecutor.

“FinCEN will greatly benefit from Matthew’s experience, leadership, and management skills,” said Director Blanco. “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.”

GID will leverage FinCEN’s BSA authorities, including Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act, to investigate and target terrorist finance and money laundering threats, and GID will work more closely with foreign counterparts to coordinate actions against such threats when appropriate.

The foundation of GID is FinCEN’s former Office of Special Measures (OSM), which was previously a part of FinCEN’s Enforcement Division. FinCEN’s strategic use of its Section 311 authority as well as its other information collection authorities, such as the geographic targeting order and foreign financial agency regulation authorities, have greatly expanded in recent years. FinCEN will now have one dedicated division focused on utilizing these authorities to maximum effect, building upon OSM’s prior work.

GID will employ FinCEN’s authorities to detect and deter a wide range of potential threats to our national security and financial system, including those that have a nexus to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, rogue state actors, transnational organized crime, international narcotics trafficking, and terrorism.

Copyright © by Ballard Spahr LLP

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About this Author

 Peter D. Hardy, Ballard Spahr, Philadelphia lawyer, White Collar Defense lawyer, Internal Investigations, Consumer Financial Services, Privacy and Data Security, Tax
Partner

Peter Hardy advises corporations and individuals in a range of industries against allegations of misconduct—including tax fraud, money laundering, Bank Secrecy Act, mortgage fraud and lending law violations, securities fraud, health care fraud, public corruption, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations, and identity theft and data breach.

Mr. Hardy has extensive trial and appellate court experience. He oversees internal investigations, advises in potential disclosures to the Internal Revenue Service, and has litigated complex criminal matters at the trial and appellate levels. He...

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