The Government Accountability Office Feb. 21 released a congressionally mandated report on currency transaction reports indicating that expanded use of existing exemptions could reduce the cost and regulatory burdens associated with anti-money laundering obligations.
Banks have promoted legislation that would allow them to extend current exemptions to include "seasoned" customers. The House passed the Seasoned Customer CTR Exemption Act (H.R. 323) in January 2007 and sought to attach such a provision to financial services regulatory relief legislation that cleared Congress in 2006 (125 PRA, 6/29/06 a0b2y6m8h0 ). Although lawmakers passed the Financial Services Regulatory Relief Act of 2006 without the additional exemptions for CTRs, they included a provision calling on the GAO to study the usefulness of the reports to law enforcement agencies.
The GAO examined CTR filings from 2004 through 2006 and conducted interviews with many banking officials. The report's findings suggest that CTRs remain useful to law enforcement agencies, which have greatly improved their ability to extrapolate valuable information about criminal activities from the data.
However, the GAO also recommended that Treasury routinely publish "summary information on law enforcement uses of CTRs, provide additional guidance on the documentation needed to demonstrate eligibility for some customers, revise certain regulations that deter exemptions, and provide Web-based material to help depository institutions interpret exemption requirements."
Read the entire article about the GAO report in the BNA story -- available through the library's institutional subscription.
The full text of the GAO report is online.