Examining FinCEN files leads to new banking laws

Revealing a torrent of dirty money that the world’s most powerful banks are doing, taking into account government regulators, FinCEN files: The investigation has revolved around the financial industry, catalyzing violence in the United States and beyond.

A few weeks after BuzzFeed News, an international consortium of investigative journalists – 108 news outlets around the world – started publishing stories based on a cache of secret writings, British lawmakers began Formal inquiry into British control of banks, members of the European Parliament were in favor a stronger response across the continentությունները Investigations began in countries ranging from Thailand to Liberia.

It is noteworthy that the FinCEN Files put final pressure on Washington, DC, to make a possible move new law with the aim of one of the most effective money laundering tools quoted in the stories – anonymous fraudulent companies. Legislation passed last week with overwhelming bipartisan support requires many of these secret American companies to find out who owns them and who benefits from them.

The Corporate Transparency Act marks the most significant revision of the anti-money laundering law since the Patriot Act in 2001.

Provisions: The legislative package, which is included in the annual defense spending bill, addresses a number of other systemic issues identified in the FinCEN Files that reveal the ineffectiveness of government oversight, the countless ways in which banks are unable to stem the flow of dirty money.

Among those reforms. The Ministry of Justice had to submit annual reports justifying the use of delayed prosecution contracts. Favorite deals that allow banks that have cracked down on anti-money laundering laws to avoid litigation and criminal convictions. The US Treasury Department will also try new technologies to better detect criminal money laundering to increase communication between the private sector and federal agencies. And those who whistle for wrongdoing will get new protection.

Although President Donald Trump has promised to veto the main bill – because it does not eliminate a number of issues related to the protection of social media companies, lawmakers may prefer to veto.

Government officials cited the BuzzFeed News – ICIJ investigation as the reason why the reforms were backed by years of inactivity. “The story of BuzzFeed makes it clear that we need to strengthen, reform, and update our nation’s anti-money laundering laws,” said Sen. Sherod Brown, a senior Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee. “This operation is long overdue.”

Senate Finance Committee Sen. Ron Wyden also referred to the FinCEN files on the day the legislation was passed, saying: “Investigative information has shed light on money laundering. The sustainable public interest has certainly helped to disseminate these provisions.” the finish line. ” (Weiden supported the reforms, but voted against the wider legislation for reasons unrelated to financial regulation.)

To investigate the FinCEN files, journalists from six continents surveyed reports of suspicious activity or SARs from the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Network (FinCEN). The SAR has described in detail more than $ 2 trillion in dubious transactions in almost every corner of the globe, with reporters linking cash flows to terrorist groups, drug lords and kleptocrats. A 16-month investigation has revealed how banks facilitated mass money laundering, how national regulators failed to control criminals or squeeze banks.

In the weeks leading up to the publication, journalists working on the FinCEN Files informed government officials of their findings and asked for comment. Officials: USA և Great Britain announced that they will change the rules of fight against money laundering. The exact rules of FinCEN files are broken և inefficient.

After BuzzFeed News contacted the US Treasury Department, the agency announced that it would begin receiving suggestions from the public on how to update the 1970 budget. Banking secrecy law, which has long guided the country’s anti-money laundering policy. Lobbyists, banks, financial services companies, academics submitted 110 comments, many of which confirmed the FinCEN Files display. US defense against money laundering is in dire need of review.

Meanwhile, on September 18, two days before the publication of the first stories of the FinCEN Files, officials in London announced programs Improve the way the UK collects information about companies registered there.

“It’s hard to believe that the forthcoming publication of the FinCEN Files forced them to do so,” said King Keating, director of the Center for Financial Crimes and Security Studies at the United Kingdom Service Institute.

As stories spread through the public eye, calls for reform increased.

British legislators has been launched Official survey of “deeply disturbing” questions raised in FinCEN Files. Parliamentary Treasury Committee he swore To look at the progress that government regulators and law enforcement agencies have made in preventing money laundering.

Speaking at the European Parliament, politicians called for joint regulations : Stronger control in the form of new powers of the new supervisory agency or existing body, the European Banking Authority.

“The existing anti-money laundering system it just doesn’t work“- said Eero Heinluoma, a Finnish member of the European Parliament, during the debate on FinCEN files. “It’s Swiss cheese full of holes.”

Other national governments have also been quick to point out the findings. In the Seychelles այում In Liberia, journalists’ revelations were sent to anti-corruption units for further action.

At the same time, criminals and autocratic regimes, long accustomed to keeping their finances secret, used violence against journalists. Prior to the release of the FinCEN files, journalists in Africa and the Middle East were shouted at, intimidated, and threatened with lawsuits. In Turkey, a court blocked the publication of many stories of FinCEN Files.

At the same time, FinCEN Files have proven to be a powerful tool in the international fight for transparency and accountability.

Activists in Niger have hailed the story of the FinCEN Files as part of a landmark trial that seeks to force the government to launch a $ 120 million corruption investigation that, according to an official audit, is missing. Regulatory authorities in Thailand probing four domestic banks whose transactions were concluded analysis: for the series: And the Belgian banks suggested: Creating a platform for exchanging information on suspicious transactions, US banks supported legislation targeting shell companies.

On the contrary, the lobby of the banking industry has tried to downplay the results of the investigation.

The Bank’s Policy Institute has issued a announcement:, is supported by social media ads that try to throw cold water on the significance of FinCEN files.

The institute challenged a main conclusion. That banks sometimes continue to bargain for customers who have been repeatedly flagged for suspicious behavior. The lobby group said the government “often” tells banks to keep those accounts open so law enforcement can control them.

In the FinCEN file documentation, however, BuzzFeed News could find only two references to any such instruction.

The lobby group claims that most SARs have nothing to do with illegal activities. Citing the information on the inquiries of 14 banks, the group said. “Our data show that about 4% of SARs are being investigated by law enforcement. “This small subset leads to arrest and, ultimately, to conviction.”

The group also said. “Ultimately, this means that 90-95% of the individuals reported by banks are likely to be innocent.”

But the lack of official backlash does not mean that flagged action is legal. Federal investigators do not have the means to pursue every lead; they do not automatically report it to banks when they study SAR topics, according to law enforcement interviews.

By law, banks must report when they detect transactions that have money laundering or other financial misconduct characteristics. SARs themselves are not evidence of a crime, but are considered a vital necessity for law enforcement to engage in illegal activities.

FBI Director Christopher Uray addresses the American Bankers Association this month he said SARs “capture an incredible range of behaviors”; they allow agents to “track down financial tracks, investigate certain individuals, entities, identify links, link points, and investigate.” The protocols, according to law enforcement sources, can help detect drug networks, clarify terrorist group financing, help officials decide to list companies or individuals involved in abuse.

In response to questions about this material with BuzzFeed News, the Bank’s Policy Institute responded, again citing its own research on the issue, reiterating that the FinCEN Files are based on an “incredibly narrow” portion of the document, some millions a year. ,

FinCEN Immediately after the release of the files – World Bank Funds fell sharply, but it was more than stock prices, which were booming in the industry. The series sparked reflection, debate, and debate in a number of media and industry forums. “This banking scandal is shocking,” he said Independent:, noted the British edition. “Reactions … will take months, if not years.”

Industry experts, in more than 100 opinion columns published in trade publications since September, have pointed to FinCEN files in favor of making changes at the same time. At International Banker, Laurent Liotard-Vogt և Florent Palayret, who work for Chappuis Halder & Co. in business management consulting company, suggested: solutions, including regulatory prevention companies, և concluded. “This is the whole system that is on the verge of collapse. It needs to be reconsidered.”

Nine days after the discovery of the results of the FinCEN File Investigation, Linda A. New York Financial Services Department, published his own analysis:noting that the series provided an opportunity to solve long-standing problems. “Now, in this new focus, we must act,” he wrote.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, Member of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, quoted: control calls for content change stories.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News this week, he said the Corporate Transparency Act should be just the first step; he would support further reforms, including making Wall Street more accountable for its financial statements. “I will continue to push mine legislation to prosecute the executive when their organizations end the law. ”

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