How BSA Reporting Makes a Difference

Last week FinCEN held it’s annual Law Enforcement Awards Program ,which recognizes cases that have been successfully prosecuted using reports provided financial institutions, and emphasized how BSA reporting really does make a difference.

The stories are always interesting but I think they also serve as a reminder to our teams that the work they do is important and has a real impact. And for many, this might be a much-needed reminder. Often, there is no feedback from the consumer regarding the information provided and it can seem to go unnoticed. In my experience the involved banks receive a letter recognizing their contribution.

So, as we look ahead into 2024, please share these accolades and statistics with your crime fighters and remind them that the work they do is impactful!

In addition, FinCEN’s advisory on promoting a culture of compliance (FIN 2014 A007) states that “Leadership and Staff Should Understand How Their BSA Reports are Used.” This is a great illustration of how financial institutions support broader national efforts in detecting illicit activity. Here is a link to the release and the notable cases are listed below:

Fraud: Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General

Investigators used BSA filings to identify more than 150 loans totaling approximately $21 million in a massive pandemic relief fraud ring. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California and the Department of Justice’s Fraud Section prosecuted this case.

Drug Trafficking Organization Activity: Federal Bureau of Investigation

Forensic accountants used complex analytics to review BSA data and other financial records to identify suspicious transactions in U.S. bank wire entries and trace illicit proceeds across three continents. The United States Attorney’s Offices for the Southern District of New York and the Southern District of Florida prosecuted the cases, with assistance from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.

Transnational Criminal Organization Activity: Drug Enforcement Administration

Investigators made extensive use of FinCEN’s programs and resources to aid this investigation, resulting in the seizure of approximately 4.5 metric tons of cocaine hydrochloride in South America bound for the United States. While searching BSA filings on one of the primary subjects, investigators identified additional information that led to the discovery of a money laundering, poly-drug trafficking, and human smuggling empire. This case was jointly prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and the Department of Justice’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section.

Proliferation Financing: Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and Homeland Security Investigations

Information received from BSA filings as well as FinCEN’s 314(a) program led to nine defendants being charged with, among other things, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. As a result of this investigation and prosecution, law enforcement recovered approximately $3 million worth of electronics and communications. This case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.

Cybercrime: U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Postal Inspection Service

This investigation focused on individuals laundering the proceeds from a business email compromise scheme. BSA information was crucial in identifying accounts and co-conspirators, ultimately leading to successful convictions. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia prosecuted this case.

Corruption: Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigation and Global Illicit Financial Team and Homeland Security Investigations

While investigating third-party money laundering, the Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigation and Global Illicit Financial Team identified a money remitter who was an investment advisor controlling several U.S. and foreign companies. BSA data revealed that Homeland Security Investigations had also initiated a separate investigation; the agencies were able to merge their efforts. The Department of Justice’s Fraud Section is prosecuting the criminal cases. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida is handling the asset forfeiture case.

Human Trafficking/Human Smuggling: Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section

BSA reporting provided critical leads during this multi-year investigation. Several law enforcement agencies and non-profit entities worked together to bring justice to the 17 victims who cooperated with law enforcement and hundreds of other victims who were subjected to the defendants’ abuse. The United States Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division prosecuted the case.

If your institution is interested in enhancing their BSA operations in 2024, you might be interested in January 9th’s session, Strengthening and Optimizing your BSA Program, with Lori Moore. And later in January, I will present on Elder Financial Abuse and how it can be combatted.