What is FinCEN?
FinCEN is a bureau of the US Department of the Treasury that was established in 1990. Its mission is to protect the financial system from illicit use and to promote national security. To achieve this, FinCEN collects and analyzes financial intelligence and provides timely and actionable information to law enforcement and the intelligence community.
One of FinCEN's key roles is to issue guidance to financial institutions on AML compliance. This guidance helps financial institutions understand their obligations under the law and provides them with best practices for identifying and reporting suspicious activities. FinCEN also provides training and educational materials to help financial institutions implement effective AML compliance programs.
Tools and Watchlists
In addition to issuing guidance, FinCEN also provides tools and resources to help financial institutions comply with their AML obligations. For example, FinCEN maintains a database of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) that financial institutions are required to file under the Bank Secrecy Act. This database is a valuable resource for law enforcement and the intelligence community, as it provides information on potentially suspicious activities that may be linked to money laundering or other financial crimes.
In addition to issuing guidance and providing tools and resources, FinCEN also plays a role in enforcing AML laws and regulations. FinCEN administers and enforces the Bank Secrecy Act, which is the primary US law that regulates AML compliance. This includes conducting investigations and taking enforcement actions against financial institutions that fail to comply with their AML obligations.
What is the FATF?
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an intergovernmental organization that was established in 1989 to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. The FATF is composed of member countries from around the world, and its Secretariat is located in Paris, France.
Like FinCEN, the FATF is responsible for issuing guidance and best practices for AML compliance. The FATF has developed a set of 40 Recommendations that provide a global standard for AML compliance. These Recommendations are regularly updated to reflect changes in the global financial landscape and to address new threats and challenges.
Tools and Watchlists
In addition to issuing guidance, the FATF also maintains a number of watchlists and public statements that provide information on countries, jurisdictions, and individuals that pose a risk for money laundering and terrorist financing. These watchlists and statements help financial institutions to identify and assess potential risks and to take appropriate action to prevent and detect money laundering and terrorist financing. See our article about the FAFT Grey and Blacklists.
In addition to issuing guidance and providing tools and resources, the FATF also plays a role in enforcing AML standards. The FATF conducts mutual evaluations of its member countries to assess their compliance with the FATF Recommendations. These evaluations are conducted by teams of experts from other member countries and are designed to identify strengths and weaknesses in a country's AML regime. The FATF also works with non-member countries to help them improve their AML frameworks and to encourage them to become members of the organization.
Additional Globally Relevant Bodies
In addition to FinCEN and the FATF, there are other global regulatory bodies that play a role in setting standards and guidance for AML compliance. For example, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision is a global standard-setting body that develops guidance on AML and counter-terrorist financing (CTF) for banks. The European Banking Authority (EBA) is another example, and it provides guidance on AML and CTF for banks and other financial institutions in the European Union.
In conclusion, regulatory bodies play a critical role in establishing standards and guidance for AML compliance. These organizations help to protect the financial system from illicit use and promote national security by issuing guidance and best practices, providing tools and resources, and enforcing the law. FinCEN and the FATF are two of the most well-known regulatory bodies in this area, and their efforts are crucial in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.