Advisory Group Focuses on Regulatory Reduction

Immediate Release

Ronald K. Noble, Treasury's Under Secretary for Enforcement, will chair the fourth meeting of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) Advisory Group today. "The BSA Advisory Group anticipated the letter and spirit of the President's recent regulatory reinvention initiative," said Under Secretary Noble. "It is a perfect example of the 'grass-roots, negotiate-don't dictate' approach called for by that initiative. With this group, the legitimate financial community has become a true partner in the fight against crime."

The BSA Advisory Group, whose members were selected by former Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen in March 1994, is a special panel of experts who offer advice to Treasury on increasing the utility of anti-money laundering programs to law enforcement and eliminating unnecessary or overly costly regulatory measures. The broad-based advisory group consists of 30 persons drawn from the financial community--including bankers, securities brokers, and other non-bank financial institutions--as well as federal and state regulatory and law enforcement agencies.

The meeting will focus on Treasury's initiatives to refashion the BSA to reduce regulatory burdens and increase the efficiency of Treasury's program to combat financial crimes. The BSA is the core of that program and is administered by Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network ("FinCEN"). FinCEN has taken a number of steps recently to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens on the financial community. These efforts include:

  • elimination of unnecessary regulations and regulatory proposals late last year;
  • finalization of long-pending rules relating to casinos and to wire transfers in a way that responded to industry calls for burden reduction;/li
  • redesign of the Currency Transaction Reports (CTR) Form that financial institutions are required to file for any cash transaction greater than $10,000, to reduce information collection by more than 30 per cent (from 98 to 64 fields). Items eliminated were determined to be difficult to complete or of limited value to law enforcement.

"The progress we've made in recent months to reduce regulatory requirements does not mean that we're trying to reduce the level of protection against money laundering in the financial sector," said Stanley E. Morris, Director of FinCEN. "On the contrary, we're trying to identify unnecessary burdens so that banks and other financial institutions can devote resources where they will do the most good -- to reporting truly suspicious conduct quickly to law enforcement officers."

The agenda for the meeting, hosted today by the Federal Reserve, includes discussion of:

  • the simplified CTR which is being presented to the Group for final review. It should be available to the financial community by March 31, 1995, and take effect on October 1, 1995;
  • reduce the number of CTRs filed by banks by at least 30 percent (as many as three million forms per year) by implementing provisions of recent legislation in a liberal manner to eliminate reports of little or no use to law enforcement;
  • registration of non-bank financial institutions required by the Money Laundering Suppression Act (MLSA) of 1994;
  • efforts, also called for by the MLSA, to enhance the detection of money laundering by bank examiners; and
  • the effect on Treasury's counter-money laundering programs with the growing use of digital cash, which presents new and important regulatory and enforcement questions for the Department of the Treasury and the law enforcement community.

"One of the President's regulatory reduction goals is to convene groups of front-line regulators and the people affected by their regulations," said Noble. "The BSA Advisory Group stands as an example of the success that can be generated by forming partnerships with the private sector in order to, as the President says, 'focus on results, not process and punishment.'"