FinCEN's Legal Authorities

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31 U.S.C. 310 

This statute establishes FinCEN as a bureau within the Treasury Department and describes FinCEN's duties and powers to include:

  • Maintaining a government-wide data access service with a range of financial transactions information
  • Analyzing and disseminating information in support of law enforcement investigatory professionals at the Federal, State, Local, and International levels
  • Determining emerging trends and methods in money laundering and other financial crimes
  • Serving as the Financial Intelligence Unit of the United States
  • Carrying out other delegated regulatory responsibilities

Authorities Delegated to FinCEN Pursuant to Treasury Order 180-01 

This Treasury Order describes FinCEN’s responsibilities to implement, administer, and enforce compliance with the authorities contained in what is commonly known as the "Bank Secrecy Act.”

The Bank Secrecy Act

The Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act of 1970, its amendments, and the other statutes relating to the subject matter of that Act, have come to be referred to as the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). The BSA authorizes the Department of the Treasury to impose reporting and other requirements on financial institutions and other businesses to help detect and prevent money laundering. Specifically, the regulations implementing the BSA require financial institutions to, among other things, keep records of cash purchases of negotiable instruments, file reports of cash transactions exceeding $10,000 (daily aggregate amount), and to report suspicious activity that might signify money laundering, tax evasion, or other criminal activities. The BSA is sometimes referred to as an "anti-money laundering" (AML) law or jointly as “BSA/AML,” and is codified at 12 U.S.C. 1829b, 12 U.S.C. 1951-1960, 31 U.S.C. 5311-5314, 5316-5336, and includes notes thereto.

Click here for additional information on the BSA.


The official title of the USA PATRIOT Act is "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act of 2001." Its purpose is to deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and other purposes.

Click here for more information on the USA PATRIOT Act.

The AML Act and the CTA

On January 1, 2021, Congress enacted the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included significant reforms to the U.S. anti-money laundering (AML) regime. The NDAA includes the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (AML Act) and, within the AML Act, the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA).

Click here to go to FinCEN’s dedicated web page for AML Act information, and here for FinCEN’s Fact Sheet on the AML Act.

Codified BSA Regulations – Chapter X

On March 1, 2011, FinCEN transferred its regulations from 31 CFR Part 103 to 31 CFR Chapter X as part of an ongoing effort to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of its regulatory oversight.

Click here for more information on Chapter X.

The Federal Register

The Federal Register contains final regulations issued after the date of codification, as well as Notices of Proposed Rulemaking.

Click here to see notices that FinCEN has submitted to the Federal Register.