Patterns of Abuse: Are Anti-Money Laundering Compliance Failures at U.S. Banks a Regulatory Resources/Coordination Issue, or a Political Will Issue?



In the wake of recent money laundering compliance failures at major U.S. and international banks, the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs is currently scheduled to hold a hearing tomorrow, Thursday, March 7, 2013 entitled, “Patterns of Abuse: Assessing Bank Secrecy Act Compliance and Enforcement.” Heather Lowe, Legal Counsel and Director of Government Affairs at Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington, DC-based research and advocacy organization, issued the following statement in advance of the hearing:
“As recent events demonstrate, there is clearly a problem with anti-money laundering compliance, at least with respect to large banks, in the U.S. banking system. We have repeatedly seen that some financial institutions are simply not putting the legally required controls in place to prevent money laundering.

“The bigger issues, however, are whether this is a systemic problem and whether we have the resources and political will necessary to make that determination and root out the bad actors. Otherwise, it would appear that the U.S. banking system is open to business for criminals looking to launder their money.

“Thursday’s hearing gives Senators the opportunity to ask regulators whether the shortcomings in anti-money laundering compliance and enforcement stem from a lack of resources and/or regulatory coordination failures, or whether this is an issue of political will.

“We hope this hearing will give Congress and the public a better understanding of where the failures are occurring and why.”

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