**Industry Partnership Results in Valuable Investigative Leads**
Section 314 of the USA Patriot Act authorises law enforcement authorities to communicate with financial institutions about suspected money launderers and terrorists, and financial institutions to communicate amongst themselves about such matters.
The authority to require financial institutions to search recent account and transaction records and report matches is found in Section 314(a) which requires the Secretary of the Treasury to adopt regulations governing the sharing of information about individuals, entities, and organisations engaged in or reasonably suspected, based on credible evidence, of engaging in terrorist acts or money laundering activities.
The information-sharing program is administered by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the U.S. Treasury Department, which reports that it has yielded numerous productive leads for both terrorist financing and major money laundering investigations. The program enables federal law enforcement agencies, through FinCEN, to reach out to over 29,000 financial institutions to locate accounts and transactions of persons that may be involved in terrorism or money laundering.
*”The immediate matches have led to the identification of accounts and transactions, which have ultimately led to indictments,”* said William J. Fox, Director of FinCEN. *”This cooperative partnership between the financial community and law enforcement allows disparate bits of information to be identified, centralised and rapidly evaluated. It’s the way information sharing should work.”*
Reporting recently on the period between February 18 and November 25, 2003, FinCEN said the 314(a) system has processed 188 requests submitted by ten federal agencies. These federal law enforcement organisations have submitted cases in the conduct of 64 terrorism/terrorist financing cases and 124 money laundering cases.
Section 314 regulations require that law enforcement provides written certification that subjects submitted to FinCEN are reasonably suspected based on credible evidence of engaging in terrorist activity or money laundering. For the period under report, there were 1,256 subjects certified by law enforcement and forwarded by FinCEN to financial institutions through the 314(a) system.
According to the latest report, the feedback from law enforcement has been overwhelmingly positive and has resulted in the discovery of hundreds of suspect accounts and transactions, in addition to the issuance of the following:
· 407 Grand Jury Subpoenas
· 11 Search Warrants
· 21 Administrative Subpoenas/ Summons
· 3 Indictments
To ensure agencies maintain a narrow focus and submit **only** those requests that relate to terrorism or significant money laundering activities, FinCEN requires documentation showing the size or impact of the case, the seriousness of the underlying criminal activity, the importance of the case to a major agency program, and any other facts demonstrating its significance.
Moreover, agencies must first exhaust traditional means of investigation in cases involving money laundering prior to making a 314(a) request.
FinCEN works to maximize information sharing among law enforcement agencies and its other partners in the regulatory and financial communities. It says working together is critical in succeeding against today’s criminals. *”No organisation, no agency, no financial institution can do it alone. Through cooperation and partnerships, FinCEN’s network approach encourages cost-effective and efficient measures to combat money laundering domestically and internationally.”*