A new study of the financial sector finds broad support for the idea that FinCEN files the investigation will help in the fight against global corruption.
The majority of respondents said the BuzzFeed News series and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists would have a positive impact on efforts to curb financial crime.
The answers are part survey of 340 bank insiders, regulators and other financial industry experts Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists, the world ‘s largest financial crime organization. A survey released last week touched on a number of issues that officials face every day, from the type of advice they receive from the Treasury to the tools they use to uncover financial crimes.
The FinCEN files, an unprecedented view of global financial corruption, as well as the banks and policies that allow it, were based on thousands of secret “suspicious activity reports” from the Ministry of Finance. Until the release of the series in September 2020, the Ministry of Finance warned that the disclosure could “affect the national security of the United States” and “compromise the investigation of law enforcement.”
Now, six months later, only 27% of respondents said they considered the effect negative. A total of 46% of respondents said they believed the project would lead to tighter controls on financial institutions or to a voluntary tightening of anti-corruption measures.
That result is a surprise, said Ross Delston, a lawyer and money laundering expert.
“It has become almost a religious precept that SARs should never be disclosed, never referred to, and should always be protected,” he said. “Based on that alone, I might think it would make law enforcement professionals any publication of information.”
He added: “Originally FinCEN” – the Finance Ministry’s Financial Crimes Network – “seemed to think that disclosure would harm their work. The reality is that it could confirm their work.”
Recently, Congress adopted a monumental the law closing the main loophole for money launderers, and leading lawmakers have found that FinCEN files help bridge it. The law on corporate transparency will make it more difficult for people to hide their identity behind so-called shell companies.
The industry is still facing big challenges.
Nearly 80% said that periodic national anti-money laundering guidelines “would be useful”. Nearly two-thirds felt that regulators should give them the best feedback on the reports they submitted. Nearly 65% of respondents felt that there was a harmful “delay” between suspicious financial transactions and reports of them to the Ministry of Finance.