A Critical Analysis of Systems in Singapore, Switzerland, the UK and the USA
Edited by Mark Pieth and Gemma Aiolfi
Chapter 7: Country Report: The US anti-money laundering system
Prepared for the Basel Institute on Governance by Lucinda A. Low, James G. Tillen and Karl Abendschein, Miller & Chevalier Chartered, Washington, DC and Daniel M. Fisher-Owens, formerly of Miller & Chevalier Chartered1,2 I OVERVIEW OF THE US ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING SYSTEM A Development and Philosophy of the US Supervisory System for Financial Institutions and Anti-Money Laundering The US anti-money laundering regime is based primarily on two statutory schemes: (1) the Money Laundering Control Act (MLCA), a penal statute (codified at 18 USC. §§1956 and 1957); and (2) the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), a regulatory statute (codified at 31 USC. §5311 et seq.). Both laws have been amended most recently in October 2001 by the International Money Laundering Control and Abatement Act of 2001, adopted as Title III of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (US PATRIOT) Act of 2001, Pub L. No. 107–56 (2001) (hereinafter the ‘PATRIOT Act’). Initially, the BSA, while defining the universe of ‘financial institutions’ broadly (see s. 3.21 infra), was implemented with respect to a more limited scope of depository and other financial institutions and required only that covered institutions keep accurate records of financial transactions and report certain domestic and foreign transactions involving currency exceeding certain threshold amounts. Even these modest requirements were challenged by banks on privacy grounds, but were twice upheld by the US Supreme Court in the 1970s (see Cal. Bankers Ass’n vs Shultz, 416 US 21 (1974); USA vs Miller, 425 US 435...
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