Treasury: AML, CTF Efforts Have Been Effective (July 13, 2015)
Efforts to combat money laundering and terrorist financing have succeeded in making life difficult for criminals seeking to engage in those activities, according to a pair of reports from the Treasury Department. The National Money Laundering Risk Assessment (NMLRA) and National Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment (NTFRA) were based on guidance set forth in 2013 by the Financial Action Task Force, the international standard-setting body for AML and CTF standards, of which the U.S. is the founding member. The NTFRA is the first of its kind, while the NMLRA follows a previous report Treasury issued in 2005.
The NLMRA concluded that the U.S. government has kept pace with innovation in money laundering techniques, forcing criminals attempting to launder money to rely on costly and burdensome methods to mask their identities when opening and managing accounts. Those methods include using cash, conducting smaller transactions below customer identification thresholds and using shell companies. Meanwhile, AML efforts have succeeded in narrowing the vulnerabilities that money launderers seek to exploit using tools, such as targeted financial sanctions, law enforcement investigations and prosecutions, as well as working to enhance international AML standards.
The U.S. government also has made terrorism financing more difficult, according to the NTFRA. Efforts in that area have “made it substantially more difficult” for terrorist groups to raise and move money through the U.S. financial system since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Since those efforts began, terrorists haven’t been as able to use the banking system to finance illegal activities, instead relying on more expensive and less efficient methods, such as cash smuggling. The risk assessment cautioned, however, that officials must remain vigilant, as the wealth and resources of the U.S. will “continue to make it an attractive target for a wide range of terrorist organizations seeking to fund their activities.”
“Today’s assessments underscore our dedication to better understand and address the risk of illicit finance,” said Adam Szubin, Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “This comprehensive review will better inform the U.S. government and our private sector partners about how to further safeguard and strengthen the U.S. economy and national security.”
The review for the assessments was led by the Treasury Department’s Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes and developed in coordination with offices and bureaus in the Treasury Department, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State and across the intelligence community and federal regulators.