What are the US anti-money laundering laws?

Money laundering is a heinous crime affecting millions of lives every year. It is the process of incorporating illegally obtained money into the legitimate financial system using various techniques. According to UN estimates, the size of money laundering every year is equivalent to 2-5% of global annual gross domestic product (GDP), translating to about US$800 billion to US$2 trillion per year.

In order to counter money laundering, governments and intergovernmental agencies have formulated certain rules, recommendations and procedures for subject entities and individuals. These together form anti-money laundering (AML) frameworks for regions and countries. AML frameworks are necessary for the safety of economies and societies, as they work as guidelines for detecting and preventing money laundering and related crimes.

Nations across the globe have come up with various legislations to counter money laundering. In general, these legislations define how financial institutions within a country will work with government agencies to protect clients, societies and the country. Some examples of these legislations include the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) in the US, the USA Patriot Act, the Anti-money Laundering Directives (AMLDs) in Europe, the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act (SAMLA) in the UK and the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) in Canada.

Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Laws in the US

Being an economically developed country, the US finds money laundering as a serious problem affecting its financial system. It is estimated that about half of the money being laundered across the globe is done via financial institutions in the US. The country is among the first in the world to formulate effective laws to counter money laundering. It enacted the BSA in 1970 and the act has become one of the most important tools in the fight against money laundering. Since then, numerous other laws have enhanced and amended the BSA to provide law enforcement and regulatory agencies with the most effective tools to combat money laundering. Given below are the important AML laws in the US.

Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) 1970

The Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) was introduced in the US in 1970 and is still the country’s most important anti-money laundering law. Administered by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the BSA was formed to ensure that financial institutions in the US do not facilitate money laundering. It is the main authority that is entrusted with the formulation of regulations and policies to combat financial crime in the country. The major provisions of the BSA are the following:

  • Recordkeeping and reporting requirements by private individuals, banks and other financial institutions
  • Measures to identify the source, volume, and movement of currency and other monetary instruments transported or transmitted into or out of the US or deposited in financial institutions
  • Requirements for banks to (1) report cash transactions over $10,000 using the Currency Transaction Report (CTR); (2) properly identify persons conducting transactions; and (3) maintain a paper trail by keeping appropriate records of financial transactions

Money Laundering Control Act 1986

The Money Laundering Control Act of 1986 designated money laundering as a federal crime and prohibited structuring transactions to evade CTR filings. The act also introduced civil and criminal forfeiture for BSA violations. Further, it directed banks to establish and maintain proper AML procedures to ensure and monitor compliance with the reporting and recordkeeping requirements of the BSA.

Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988

The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 expanded the definition of a financial institution to include businesses such as car dealers and real estate closing personnel and required them to file reports on large currency transactions. It also required the verification of the identity of purchasers of monetary instruments over $3,000.

Annunzio-Wylie Anti-Money Laundering Act 1992

The Annunzio-Wylie Anti-Money Laundering Act of 1992 strengthened the sanctions for BSA violations and required Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) and eliminated previously used Criminal Referral Forms (CRFs). The act also required from financial institutions verification and recordkeeping for wire transfers. It further established the Bank Secrecy Act Advisory Group (BSAAG).

Money Laundering Suppression Act 1994

The Money Laundering Suppression Act of 1994 required banking agencies to review and enhance training and develop anti-money laundering examination procedures. The act also required banking agencies to review and enhance procedures for referring cases to appropriate law enforcement agencies. Other major provisions of the act include:

  • Streamlined CTR exemption process
  • Registration requirements for each Money Services Business (MSB) by an owner or controlling person
  • Requirements for every MSB to maintain a list of businesses authorized to act as agents in connection with the financial services offered by the MSB
  • Operating an unregistered MSB became a federal crime

Money Laundering and Financial Crimes Strategy Act 1998

The Money Laundering and Financial Crimes Strategy Act of 1998 required banking agencies to develop AML training for examiners. The act also required the Department of the Treasury and other agencies to develop a National Money Laundering Strategy. It further created the High-Intensity Money Laundering and Related Financial Crime Area (HIFCA) Task Forces to concentrate law enforcement efforts at the federal, state and local levels in zones where money laundering is prevalent. HIFCAs may be defined geographically or they can also be created to address money laundering in an industry sector, a financial institution, or a group of financial institutions.

USA PATRIOT Act 2001

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the US revamped the BSA and introduced the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (USA PATRIOT Act) that requires all financial institutions to establish their own AML programs. Title III of the act is referred to as the International Money Laundering Abatement and Financial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001. The act criminalized the financing of terrorism and augmented the existing BSA framework by strengthening customer identification procedures. It also prohibited financial institutions from engaging in business with foreign shell banks. Other provisions of the act include:

  • Requirements for financial institutions to have due diligence procedures and enhanced due diligence procedures for foreign correspondent and private banking accounts
  • Improved information sharing between financial institutions and the US government by requiring government-institution information sharing and voluntary information sharing among financial institutions
  • Expansion of the anti-money laundering program requirements to all financial institutions
  • Higher civil and criminal penalties for money laundering
  • Authorization for the Secretary of the Treasury to impose “special measures” on jurisdictions, institutions, or transactions that are of “primary money laundering concern”
  • Requirement for banks to respond to regulatory requests for information within 120 hours
  • Federal banking agencies started considering a bank’s AML record when reviewing bank mergers, acquisitions, and other applications for business combinations

Intelligence Reform & Terrorism Prevention Act 2004

The Intelligence Reform & Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 amended the BSA to require the Secretary of the Treasury to prescribe regulations requiring certain financial institutions to report cross-border electronic transmittals of funds.

Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) 2020

The US Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2021 on January 1, 2021. As part of the NDAA, the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (AML Act) is poised to amend the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) for the first time since 2001. The AML Act will modernize the BSA. Specifically, it is intended to prevent money launderers from using shell companies to evade detection. Further, the Act will address emerging financial threats, encourage coordination and information sharing, and promote technological innovation. The AML Act provisions the creation of an Ultimate Beneficial Ownership (UBO) register and strengthens the enforcement’s ability to seek foreign bank records.

The PATRIOT Act and the Bank Secrecy Act provide a layer of protection to the USA’s economy and financial institutions against money laundering and other financial crimes. These laws encompass the procedure to recognize suspicious activity, flag off concerned authorities, and trigger the necessary legal action required to charge the criminals. These laws have the power to have suspicious financial institutions investigated by the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of Currency. Financial institutions in the US should proper AML compliance programs to ensure compliance with these laws. Tookitaki’s modern AML solutions help financial institutions build futuristic compliance programs adhering to local laws and regulations. Contact us for a demo if you want to learn more.

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OCC Spring Risk Perspective: 5 Takeaways on Compliance Risk

Despite its general strength, the US federal banking system is apparently susceptible to the ongoing economic weakness caused by the rampant spread of coronavirus. Earlier this month, The US Office of...

How Criminals Used COVID-19 Sales Pitch to Defraud, Launder Money

As the world is working hard to contain the spread of the COVID-19, criminals continue to take advantage of the pandemic. They are devising sophisticated methods to defraud people and launder the crim...

5 Top Myths and Facts about AI Implementation in AML Programs

We are more confirmed about the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to transform lives and businesses now. There are countless possible applications of AI and machine learning at present, and we see...

Typology Repository Management: Solving AML Problems Via Collective Intelligence and Continuous Learning

Despite its general strength, the US federal banking system is apparently susceptible to the ongoing economic weakness caused by the rampant spread of coronavirus. Earlier this month, The US Office of...

Money Laundering Amid COVID-19: What Regulators Across Globe Say

As the world continues to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, there are reports that criminals are taking advantage of the difficult situation. They are seizing the moment to proliferate their crimin...

How will Art Cease to Be a Preferred Money Laundering Vehicle?

Money laundering via high-end art and antiquities is not new yet it is difficult to detect. Art-related money laundering amounts to about US$3 billion per year, according to this blog, quoting the Uni...

Beware! Money Mules in Demand amid COVID-19. Here’s an Effective Cure

If reports are to be believed, cybercrooks are taking advantage of the COVID-19 situation. They are targeting people who were laid off or working from home due to the pandemic to work for them as mone...

How do we weather a tornado of change?

“Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance” – Samuel Johnson All of us are in challenging times. However, we cannot afford to be lethargic to life, work, and busi...

Roundtable Rewind: Embracing Next-gen Tech & Collaboration Key to Sustainability

As a regtech player with a vision to enable sustainable compliance programs in financial institutions, Tookitaki organized a first-of-its-kind industry roundtable in Charlotte, NC, USA to discuss oppo...

Tookitaki Appoints Industry Veteran Joe Friscia as Advisor

Tookitaki Holding Pte. Ltd. appointed industry veteran Joe Friscia, former President of NICE Actimize and BAE Systems as Advisor to the Company’s Advisory Board. Joe brings over 25 years’ extensi...

Should Modern Machines Be Ethical?

There are mounting concerns across the globe about the reliability and safety of artificial intelligence (AI) based systems and its enabling technologies such as machine learning (ML). On the air are ...

Tookitaki Raises Another US$11.7 million in Series A; Closes Round at US$19.2 million

– by Abhishek Chatterjee, Founder & CEO The Tookitaki team and I are excited to announce that we have raised an additional US$11.7 million in Series A funding, taking the total investment in...

30 Years of FATF: Notable Facts About Global AML Watchdog

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the intergovernmental body formed in 1989 to combating money laundering, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Since its inception, the global agency p...

Tookitaki Joins Aite Financial Crime Forum as Sponsor

Technological advances have fundamentally changed the operational landscape of financial institutions. However, there are also new risks emerging in forms of sophisticated financial frauds and complex...

Will Machine Learning Replace Compliance Professionals?

The impact of modern technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning on job security has been a widely discussed topic today. Of course, AI has advanced very quickly in the last...

6 Most Prevalent Cyber-Laundering Methods in APAC

Despite being a medium to exchange information in real-time and with scale, the Internet is being misused in several ways. Among the slew of financial crimes facilitated by the Internet, money launder...

What Made Us Earn the WEF Technology Pioneer Title

Tookitaki has bagged another global acknowledgement for its outstanding works in the regulatory compliance field. Our company was selected among hundreds of candidates as one of the World Economic Fo...

We Stay as a Team, We Win as a Team and We Flourish as a Team

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to a...

ABA Regulatory Compliance Conference: 10 Sessions You Can’t Miss

The 2019 edition of the American Bankers Association (ABA) Regulatory Compliance Conference is a few more days away. Organized by the Washington, D.C.-based trade association, the conference is touted...

Tookitaki AMLS Wins SBR Technology Excellence Award 2019

Tookitaki’s Anti-Money Laundering Suite (AMLS), an end-to-end machine learning-powered transaction monitoring and names screening solution, has bagged the inaugural Singapore Business Review Tec...

Watchdogs Grow Optimistic about AI Prospects at Banks

Proper regulation of banking operations is important as any failure in the banking system would affect the wider economy. Therefore, banking is one of the most regulated industries across the globe. F...

Pitfall of Black Box AI at Banks: Explaining Your Models to Regulators

The use cases of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in front-office, middle-office and back-office activities at banks are growing slowly but steadily. The major areas of AI play includ...

AI for Regulatory Compliance at Banks: 4 Assessments Before You Okay the Solution Proposal

Banking is one of the industries where artificial intelligence and machine learning find their applications at a rapid pace. Regulatory compliance within banking is an area which has become a costly a...

We Believe in Innovation, the Key to Survival and Growth

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” -Steve Jobs What comes on the top of your screen when you google the meaning of the word innovation is – the introduction of somet...

Compliance Functions in Need of a Technological Overhaul. Can Machine Learning be the Game-Changer?

McKinsey in its latest compliance benchmarking survey found that compliance function at financial institutions has reached “an inflection point” and current compliance standards are in an “incho...

Tookitaki Raises US$7.5 mn Series A from Global VCs to Transform Regulatory Compliance

Tookitaki, a regulatory technology company that aims to enable financial institutions to develop sustainable compliance programs, has raised US$7.5 million in Series A round. The round was co-led by L...

From Wachovia to Danske Bank: Biggest Money Laundering Cases in Recent Times

Money laundering – the criminal activity of processing criminal proceeds to disguise their origin – is one of the gravest problems faced by the global economy, and its size is growing rapidly. It ...

A Modern Approach to Address the Reconciliation Challenges of Financial Services

Reconciliation of transactions is deemed critical for the smooth running of every financial institution. The speed and accuracy of data reconciliation can distinguish a successful institution from its...

Busting a Myth: Compliance Officer’s Job is All About Risk

Regulatory compliance has become a dreadful task for banks after regulators across the globe set stricter norms in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis in an effort to prevent financial crimes s...

SocGen Goes Next-Gen with Tookitaki Reconciliation Suite

Société Générale leveraged Tookitaki’s Reconciliation Suite to automate the bank’s existing break reconciliation system. Key Challenges Addressed The bank’s finance department was unable to ...

Attending ACAMS Conference in Singapore? Tookitaki Awaits You with Its Disruptive AML Solution

“In today’s era of volatility, there is no other way but to re-invent. The only sustainable advantage you can have over others is agility, that’s it.”- Jeff Bezos Singapore is hosting ACAMS’...

MAS’ Stress on Transaction Monitoring for Effective AML/CFT Compliance and Machine Learning is the Answer

Singapore is known for its top-notch AML/CFT regime created through up-to-date legislation, stringent policy and uncompromising supervision to safeguard against the abuse of the city state’s financi...

Mifid II and the Pressing Need for a New Reconciliation Approach

The financial services industry in the EU has been confused with the introduction of a revamped version of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (Mifid II). The ambitious regulatory reforms t...

Is Automated Reconciliation Next to Impossible in Today’s Complex Financial World?

The 2008 global financial crisis and fairly new regulatory requirements like Basel III asked financial institutions (FIs) to cut operating costs and adopt a lean operations structure, pushing FIs to r...

Modern Tech to Reshape US AML Compliance with Regulators’ Recent Handshake

George Bernard Shaw once said: “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” The past week has seen a significant change of mind from financial regulators in the US in their ardent...

Skills Development: We Have Talents and We Strive to Multiply Them

“Mastery lies on an infinite continuum, and as a result, we will never reach the end. We can, however, see to it that we are as far along that continuum as our circumstance allows.” ― Chris Mat...

It’s Our Fourth Founding Day; Taking a Pause to Cherish Our Simple but Awesome Journey

Today, as we step into our 4th year of foundation, I feel proud and honored to be leading Tookitaki that has been successful in creating added value to all its stakeholders. I was never a CEO and Took...

Tookitaki Expands into the US with New Office in Charlotte

SINGAPORE, Sept. 24, 2018: Tookitaki Holding Pte Ltd, a leading regulatory technology company, is pleased to announce the official opening of its North American office in Charlotte, NC, in the Unite...

We Tame Machines but We Unleash Human Spirits

We are well aware of the fact that our progress as an organization is in the hands of our employees. The more energy, time and attention we invest in them, the more yield we receive. So, we always mak...

5 Methods That Modern Money Launderers Use To Beat Detection

Society prepares the crime, the criminal commits it. DID YOU KNOW? Every year, an estimated amount in the range of US$800 billion-US$2 trillion (2-5% of global GDP) is being laundered globally Regulat...

Risk Management Conference: Positive Vibes from All Corners

The Risk Management Association’s (RMA) premier annual event, the Risk Management Conference, came to an end on 6 November, and Tookitaki had the privilege to attend the event which we believe was ...

Singapore Fintech Festival: Tookitaki to showcase advanced machine learning solutions in financial services

Singapore is assured of the Fintech world’s unwavering attention next week, as the city state, is hosting this year’s Fintech Festival during 12-16 November. Touted as the world’s largest platfo...

The RMA Clarion Call to Address Risks and the Tookitaki Way

Risk officers, doing your best today is good while preparing hard for tomorrow is extraordinary. Risk management at banks has become difficult due to operational and regulatory changes. The Risk Manag...