FinCEN Law and Legal Definition

FinCEN means the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. It is a bureau within the U.S. Department of the Treasury that was established in 1990 to provide a government wide multisource financial intelligence and analysis network. The bureau collects and analyzes information about financial transactions in order to combat money laundering, terrorist financiers, and other financial crimes. As the name shows, FinCEN is a network, a means of bringing people and information together to fight the complex problem of money laundering.

In 1994, the organization's operations were broadened to include regulatory responsibilities for administering the Bank Secrecy Act. The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001broadened the scope of the Bank Secrecy Act to focus on terrorist financing as well as money laundering. The Act also gave the FinCEN additional responsibilities and authorities in both important areas, and established the organization as a bureau within the Treasury Department.

The Director of FinCEN reports to Treasury's Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. TFI is the lead office in the Treasury Department for fighting the financial war on terror, combating financial crime, and enforcing economic sanctions against rogue nations.

The following is an example of a federal statute on FinCEN:

31 USCS § 310. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network

(a) In general. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network established by order of the Secretary of the Treasury (Treasury Order Numbered 105-08, in this section referred to as "FinCEN") on April 25, 1990, shall be a bureau in the Department of the Treasury.

(b) Director.

(1) Appointment. The head of FinCEN shall be the Director, who shall be appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury.

(2) Duties and powers. The duties and powers of the Director are as follows:

(A) Advise and make recommendations on matters relating to financial intelligence, financial criminal activities, and other financial activities to the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Enforcement.

(B) Maintain a government-wide data access service, with access, in accordance with applicable legal requirements, to the following:

(i) Information collected by the Department of the Treasury, including report information filed under subchapter II of chapter 53 of this title [31 USCS §§ 5311 et seq.] (such as reports on cash transactions, foreign financial agency transactions and relationships, foreign currency transactions, exporting and importing monetary instruments, and suspicious activities), chapter 2 of title I of Public Law 91-508 [12 USCS §§ 1951 et seq.], and section 21 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act [12 USCS § 1829b].

(ii) Information regarding national and international currency flows.

(iii) Other records and data maintained by other Federal, State, local, and foreign agencies, including financial and other records developed in specific cases.

(iv) Other privately and publicly available information.

(C) Analyze and disseminate the available data in accordance with applicable legal requirements and policies and guidelines established by the Secretary of the Treasury and the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Enforcement to--

(i) identify possible criminal activity to appropriate Federal, State, local, and foreign law enforcement agencies;

(ii) support ongoing criminal financial investigations and prosecutions and related proceedings, including civil and criminal tax and forfeiture proceedings;

(iii) identify possible instances of noncompliance with subchapter II of chapter 53 of this title [31 USCS §§ 5311 et seq.], chapter 2 of title I of Public Law 91-508 [12 USCS §§ 1951 et seq.], and section 21 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act [12 USCS § 1829b] to Federal agencies with statutory responsibility for enforcing compliance with such provisions and other appropriate Federal regulatory agencies;

(iv) evaluate and recommend possible uses of special currency reporting requirements under section 5326 [31 USCS § 5326];

(v) determine emerging trends and methods in money laundering and other financial crimes;

(vi) support the conduct of intelligence or counterintelligence activities, including analysis, to protect against international terrorism; and

(vii) support government initiatives against money laundering.

(D) Establish and maintain a financial crimes communications center to furnish law enforcement authorities with intelligence information related to emerging or ongoing investigations and undercover operations.

(E) Furnish research, analytical, and informational services to financial institutions, appropriate Federal regulatory agencies with regard to financial institutions, and appropriate Federal, State, local, and foreign law enforcement authorities, in accordance with policies and guidelines established by the Secretary of the Treasury or the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Enforcement, in the interest of detection, prevention, and prosecution of terrorism, organized crime, money laundering, and other financial crimes.

(F) Assist Federal, State, local, and foreign law enforcement and regulatory authorities in combatting the use of informal, nonbank networks and payment and barter system mechanisms that permit the transfer of funds or the equivalent of funds without records and without compliance with criminal and tax laws.

(G) Provide computer and data support and data analysis to the Secretary of the Treasury for tracking and controlling foreign assets.

(H) Coordinate with financial intelligence units in other countries on anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering initiatives, and similar efforts.

(I) Administer the requirements of subchapter II of chapter 53 of this title [31 USCS §§ 5311 et seq.], chapter 2 of title I of Public Law 91-508 [12 USCS §§ 1951 et seq.], and section 21 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act [12 USCS § 1829b], to the extent delegated such authority by the Secretary of the Treasury.

(J) Such other duties and powers as the Secretary of the Treasury may delegate or prescribe.

(c) Requirements relating to maintenance and use of data banks. The Secretary of the Treasury shall establish and maintain operating procedures with respect to the government-wide data access service and the financial crimes communications center maintained by FinCEN which provide--

(1) for the coordinated and efficient transmittal of information to, entry of information into, and withdrawal of information from, the data maintenance system maintained by FinCEN, including--

(A) the submission of reports through the Internet or other secure network, whenever possible;

(B) the cataloguing of information in a manner that facilitates rapid retrieval by law enforcement personnel of meaningful data; and

(C) a procedure that provides for a prompt initial review of suspicious activity reports and other reports, or such other means as the Secretary may provide, to identify information that warrants immediate action; and

(2) in accordance with section 552a of title 5 and the Right to Financial Privacy Act of 1978, appropriate standards and guidelines for determining--

(A) who is to be given access to the information maintained by FinCEN;

(B) what limits are to be imposed on the use of such information; and

(C) how information about activities or relationships which involve or are closely associated with the exercise of constitutional rights is to be screened out of the data maintenance system.

(d) Authorization of appropriations.

(1) In general. There are authorized to be appropriated for FinCEN $ 100,419,000 for fiscal year 2011 and such sums as may be necessary for each of the fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

(2) Authorization for funding key technological improvements in mission-critical FinCEN systems. There are authorized to be appropriated for fiscal year 2005 the following amounts, which are authorized to remain available until expended:

(A) BSA direct. For technological improvements to provide authorized law enforcement and financial regulatory agencies with Web-based access to FinCEN data, to fully develop and implement the highly secure network required under section 362 of Public Law 107-56 [note to this section] to expedite the filing of, and reduce the filing costs for, financial institution reports, including suspicious activity reports, collected by FinCEN under chapter 53 [31 USCS §§ 5301 et seq.] and related provisions of law, and enable FinCEN to immediately alert financial institutions about suspicious activities that warrant immediate and enhanced scrutiny, and to provide and upgrade advanced information-sharing technologies to materially improve the Government's ability to exploit the information in the FinCEN data banks, $ 16,500,000.

(B) Advanced analytical technologies. To provide advanced analytical tools needed to ensure that the data collected by FinCEN under chapter 53 [31 USCS §§ 5301 et seq.] and related provisions of law are utilized fully and appropriately in safeguarding financial institutions and supporting the war on terrorism, $ 5,000,000.

(C) Data networking modernization. To improve the telecommunications infrastructure to support the improved capabilities of the FinCEN systems, $ 3,000,000.

(D) Enhanced compliance capability. To improve the effectiveness of the Office of Compliance in FinCEN, $ 3,000,000.

(E) Detection and prevention of financial crimes and terrorism. To provide development of, and training in the use of, technology to detect and prevent financial crimes and terrorism within and without the United States, $ 8,000,000.