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The U.S. Effort

The United States leads in countering financial crime, and its role in global enforcement is crucial. Still, laundering has evolved through time and governments have struggled to keep up with innovation.

“Just as earlier incarnations of the Bank Secrecy Act were laser-focused on countering drug-related financial flows, the updates in the USA PATRIOT Act really emphasized disrupting the money flows of groups like al-Qaida. It never anticipated the challenges of the 2020s: digital assets, strategic corruption, an explosion of kleptocrats hiding their wealth in American shell companies, or artificial intelligence that could help us recognize these crimes and others,” said Him Das, then acting director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), in 2022 remarks to bankers.

FinCEN, a bureau of the U.S. Department of Treasury, laid out its priorities in 2021:

  1. Corruption.
  2. Cyber crime, including relevant cybersecurity and virtual currency considerations.
  3. Terrorist financing.
  4. International terrorism.
  5. Domestic terrorism.
  6. Fraud.
  7. Transnational criminal organization activity.
  8. Drug trafficking organization activity.
  9. Human trafficking and human smuggling.
  10. Proliferation financing.

The issue touches national security as “terrorists require financing to recruit and support members, fund logistics, and conduct operations. Preventing such financing, therefore, is essential to counter the threat of terrorism successfully,” explained FinCEN.

The agency runs an innovation program where companies in financial and regulatory technology can present their initiatives.

“The ability to link to a variety of databases provides FinCEN with one of the largest repositories of information available to law enforcement in the country,” declared the agency on its website.


Its responsibility includes the use of technology for acquiring and legalizing illicit funds.

“Treasury is particularly concerned about cyber-enabled financial crime, ransomware attacks, and the misuse of virtual assets that exploits and undermines their innovative potential, including through laundering of illicit proceeds,” said FinCEN in a document.
Part of FinCEN’s scope is the joint enforcement of export limitations with the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), a U.S. Department of Commerce agency.

These agencies control the export of, for example, semiconductors to Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. An array of goods that could potentially help Moscow’s war effort are included in lists FinCEN must follow. Quantum technologies, artificial intelligence and other novel advances are scrutinized by FinCEN and BIS.

SIGNAL Media reached out to FinCEN. An emailed response indicated the agency “does not discuss the exact methods and specific tools we use.”