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GGD-98-117, June 19, 1998 (75 pages). Money Laundering: FinCEN's Law Enforcement Support Role Is Evolving. [Text] [PDF]

Although the magnitude of money laundering is unknown, law enforcement officials have estimated that between $100 billion and $300 billion in U.S. currency is laundered each year. Money laundering allows drug dealers, terrorists, arms dealers, and other criminals to operate and expand their activities. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), part of the Treasury Department, was establish in 1990 to help combat money laundering and other financial crimes. In earlier work, GAO discussed FinCEN's various roles, including its progress in promulgating Bank Secrecy Act regulations and its efforts to administer civil penalties for violating them. (See GAO/GGD-98-18, Feb. 1998, and GAO/T-GGD-98-83, Apr. 1998). This report focuses on FinCEN's products and services in support of law enforcement. GAO discusses (1) trends in the types and quantities of products and services FinCEN provides to the law enforcement community; (2) the extent to which law enforcement agencies consider FinCEN's products and services useful in identifying, developing, or prosecuting money laundering and other financial crime cases; (3) the extent to which FinCEN evaluates the states' compliance with applicable controls over access to and use of information when state law enforcement officials directly access FinCEN's resources; and (4) FinCEN's efforts to provide Internal Revenue Service Form 8300 information (Report of Cash Payments Over $10,000 Received in a Trade or Business) to law enforcement agencies. GAO found that FinCEN gets good marks from law enforcement agencies that use its tactical support information and its self-help systems that enable law enforcement agencies access to financial information.