Some banking and privacy advocates are upset by an Obama administration proposal that would require the disclosure of all money transfers sent to and from the United States. Currently, only transfers of more than $10,000, or which otherwise attract suspicion, must be reported.
But the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) hopes the new requirement would help identify more transfers used in terror financing and other forms of organized crime. Banks already have to keep such data, but not report it, a FinCEN statement said.
The changes wouldn't take effect before 2012, and must undergo a public comment period first. In a story Monday, the Washington Post cited several critics who took issue with the proposal, primarily on privacy grounds.
The increased data, however, would help investigators identify criminal conspiracies. Though the 9/11 hijackers received $130,000 in overseas transfers, for example, none triggered reporting requirements in existing law.
"With this data, we'll be able to establish baseline numbers so we can then spot what's abnormal and suspicious," FinCEN spokesman Steve Hudak told the Post. "John Smith may use a bank to wire money abroad in amounts that don't raise suspicion. But he may be using 10 banks to wire significant funds to dozens of counties."
The proposal emanates from the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, the FinCEN statement said. That act called on the Treasury Secretary to study the feasibility of adding the requirements and "if the Secretary determines that reporting of such transmittals is reasonably necessary to conduct the efforts of the Secretary against money laundering and terrorist financing."