The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. FinCEN has the responsibility to protect the U.S. financial system from illegal use, to prevent and deter money laundering, and facilitate national security by collecting, analyzing, and disseminating financial intelligence among financial authorities. To accomplish its mission, FinCEN receives financial data from financial transactions, from counterpart agencies and organizations, and from law enforcement.
The primary law that FinCEN oversees is the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). The BSA requires financial institutions and other financial service companies to maintain anti-money laundering programs, to report certain suspicious activity (Suspicious Activity Reports or SARs), and to report information regarding large cash transactions (Currency Transaction Reports or CTRs). The information that is reported is used by FinCEN and by counterpart agencies for the purposes of criminal, tax, and regulatory investigations related to money laundering, fraud, and counter-terrorism.
FinCEN enforces the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act of 2001 (“Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001”) which is part of the BSA, and it works closely with another office of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). OFAC administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on national security needs and government sanctions. OFAC makes determinations about freezing assets identified with suspected illegal activity, or, assets owned or under the control of entities identified with suspected illegal activity.
FinCEN has broad authority to enforce the BSA and other related laws and regulations by many actions, including:
- Issuing and interpreting anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism regulations;
- Supporting and enforcing compliance;
- Coordinating actions with other federal regulators;
- Managing and protecting the collected data;
- Maintaining government-wide access to its data for a network of authorized users; and,
- Conducting analysis of the data to report and respond to policymakers, agencies, and the financial industry.