The ICBA and America's Community Bankers have raised concerns with the Treasury Dept. about the revised data-match program under section 314(a) of the USA PATRIOT Act. In a joint letter to Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions Wayne Abernathy, the two associations reaffirmed community banks' commitment to the war against terrorist financing and money laundering. However, the associations wrote, "Anti-money laundering compliance dollars should be used only where they will provide value to law enforcement and help ensure a safer and more secure America."
Generally, the section 314(a) data-match program requires banks to search their records for accounts with listed names during the prior twelve months and for transactions involving those entities during the prior six months. When the program was started last November, problems raised by the ICBA and others led Treasury to call a halt to the program until the concerns could be addressed. Early in March, the information sharing resumed. However, the ICBA and ACB told Treasury there are still problems that must be addressed to ensure the program works as Congress intended. "Recent requests are overly broad, unduly burdensome and appear to be used more for general investigation of criminal activities rather than truly focused on terrorism and money laundering," the associations wrote.
The ICBA and ACB stressed that Treasury/FinCEN should: limit information requests to instances of terrorism or money laundering; follow the 12-month and 6-month search time frames; allow banks two weeks to respond to requests; batch requests into one list every two weeks; and report to the industry on the success of the 314(a) program. While recognizing that there may be extraordinary circumstances that warrant departure from these guidelines, the ICBA and ACB told Treasury that exceptions should be used sparingly and only when warranted. The associations also urged Treasury to work to educate law enforcement agencies about the impact these requests have on bank operations.
ICBA and ACB pledged to work with Treasury to achieve an appropriate solution for the data-match program that is workable for the industry and within congressional intent. The letter is available on the ICBA Web site at www.icba.org.