Financial Crimes Efforts Get Funding Boost as Part of Ukraine Aid Package

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A new military and economic aid package to help Ukraine repel Russia’s invasion includes additional funding for the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network

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The bill includes $52 million for the US Treasury Department. Lawmakers earlier said those funds would be split between the agency’s anti-money-laundering bureau and criminal investigators at the Internal Revenue Service.

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If the bill is signed by President Biden, nearly $30 million of those funds would go to the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., RI) said in a statement on Thursday.

FinCEN, a bureau of the Treasury, is tasked with collecting financial intelligence and enforcing laws that protect the US financial system from illicit activity. Its budget has grown in recent years, following the passage of legislation that requires the bureau to make extensive changes to US anti-money-laundering laws.

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The legislation, passed in January 2021, requires FinCEN to create a corporate-ownership registry, which lawmakers hope will help limit the use of anonymous shell companies for nefarious purposes.

FinCEN has issued draft regulations as part of its mandate to implement the legislation and create the registry. But it has missed congressional deadlines, and the bureau’s leaders have said they need additional funding to complete the full set of reforms more quickly.

“We’re missing deadlines…and we’ll continue to miss deadlines, because we just don’t have the staffing to carry through on all of the efforts required under the [Anti-Money-Laundering] Act,” FinCEN Acting Director Himamauli Das told members of the House Committee on Financial Services last month.

FinCEN received an increase of about $34 million in funding for the government’s 2022 fiscal year, though that amount fell short of the sum requested by the Biden administration. FinCEN also received an additional $19 million as part of the first Ukraine aid package passed by Congress in March.

The cash infusions represent a boost for an agency that financial transparency groups have said is chronically underfunded.

FinCEN’s operating budget in 2020 was around $154 million. The Biden administration’s budget for fiscal year 2023 requests $210 million for FinCEN, about $49 million above the level enacted in 2022.

The Ukraine aid bill passed Thursday also earmarks $67 million in additional funds for the US Justice Department, which it said the agency may use to investigate and seize property related to Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine.

Write to Dylan Tokar at [email protected]

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Credit: www.wsj.com /

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