, Congress passed the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act
commonly known as the “Bank Secrecy Act,”2
which established requirements for recordkeeping and reporting by private individuals, banks,3 and other financial institutions. The BSA was designed to help identify the source, volume, and movement of currency and other monetary instruments transported or transmitted into or out of the United States or deposited in financial institutions. The statute sought to achieve that objective by requiring individuals, banks, and other financial institutions to file currency reports with the U.S. Department of the Treasury (U.S. Treasury), properly identify persons conducting transactions, and maintain a paper trail by keeping appropriate records of financial transactions. These records enable law enforcement and regulatory agencies to pursue investigations of criminal, tax, and regulatory violations, if warranted, and provide evidence useful in prosecuting money laundering and other financial crimes.
The Money Laundering Control Act of 1986
augmented the BSA’s effectiveness by adding the interrelated sections 8(s) and 21 to the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (FDIA) and section 206(q) of the Federal Credit Union Act (FCUA), which sections apply equally to banks of all charters.4 The Money Laundering Control Act of 1986 precludes circumvention of the BSA requirements by imposing criminal liability on a person or financial institution that knowingly assists in the laundering of money, or that structures transactions to avoid reporting them. The 1986 statute directed banks to establish and maintain procedures reasonably designed to ensure and monitor compliance with the reporting and recordkeeping requirements of the BSA. As a result, on January 27, 1987,
all federal banking agencies issued essentially similar regulations requiring banks to develop programs for BSA compliance.
Annunzio–Wylie Anti-Money Laundering Act
strengthened the sanctions for BSA violations and the role of the U.S. Treasury. Two years later, Congress passed the Money Laundering Suppression Act of 1994 (MLSA), which further addressed the U.S. Treasury’s role in combating money laundering.
In April 1996
, a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR)
was developed to be used by all banking organizations in the United States. A banking organization is required to file a 2 31 USC 5311 et seq., 12 USC 1829b, and 1951 – 1959. Also refer to 12 USC 1818(s) (federally insured depository institutions) and 12 USC 1786(q) (federally insured credit unions).
3 Under the BSA
, as implemented by 31 CFR 103.11, the term “bank” includes each agent, agency, branch or office within the United States of commercial banks, savings and loan associations, thrift institutions, credit unions, and foreign banks. The term “bank” is used throughout the manual generically to refer to the financial institution being examined.
4 12 USC 1818(s), 1829(b), and 1786(q), respectively.