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GGD-98-18, Feb. 6, 1998 (54 pages). Money Laundering: FinCEN Needs to Better Communicate Regulatory Priorities and Time Lines. [Text] [PDF]

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) was established in 1990 to support law enforcement agencies by analyzing and coordinating financial intelligence information to combat money laundering. FinCEN has issued fewer analytical products in recent years. A primary reason that FinCEN officials gave for this change is that FinCEN's staffing levels have remained fairly constant, while its overall mission has expanded. Also, FinCEN has been encouraging and training other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to assess and analyze source data directly either through FinCEN resources or their own. Federal and state officials generally seemed satisfied with FinCEN's products and service. However, FinCEN needs to better communicate its regulatory priorities and time lines, particularly concerning regulations authorized or required by the Money Laundering Suppression Act of 1994. FinCEN did not meet any of the three statutory deadlines imposed by the act, and final regulations for several of the act's provisions are still pending. In 1992, GAO reported that the Treasury Department was taking about 21 months, on average, to process civil penalty referrals for Bank Secrecy Act violations. Since then, the average has grown to about three years, according to FinCEN data. GAO is working with FinCEN to identify reasons for the increase in processing times. GAO summarized this report in testimony before Congress; see: Money Laundering: FinCEN's Law Enforcement Support, Regulatory, and International Roles, by Norman J. Rabkin, Director of Administration of Justice Issues, before the Subcommittee on General Oversight and Investigations, House Committee on Banking and Financial Services. GAO/T-GGD-98-83, Apr. 1 (40 pages).