Money Laundering:

The Use of Bank Secrecy Act Reports by Law Enforcement Could Be Increased

T-GGD-93-31: Published: May 26, 1993. Publicly Released: May 26, 1993.

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GAO discussed the federal government's efforts to combat money laundering, focusing on the use of financial transaction reports to detect, investigate, and prosecute money laundering operations. GAO noted that: (1) federal law enforcement officials estimate that $100 billion to $300 billion in U.S. currency is laundered annually; (2) the transaction reports that banks must file for transactions exceeding $10,000 are extremely useful to federal law enforcement agencies for tracking the flow of cash across U.S. borders and controlling money laundering operations; (3) increased bank compliance with reporting requirements has made the movement of illicit profits difficult and forced money launderers to find other means of converting currency; (4) of the 52 million transaction reports filed, 95 percent were Currency Transaction Reports (CTR); (5) the number of CTR filed has increased annually and could total 92 million in 4 years; (6) CTR information is stored on duplicative databases for federal law enforcement, regulatory, and tax administration purposes; (7) law enforcement agencies have not fully utilized CTR to its full extent due to the difficulty in analyzing large volume of reports and problems in accessing data on the state level; (8) federal resources to enforce CTR provisions at non-bank institutions may be insufficient to ensure reporting compliance; and (9) increased state involvement in enforcing reporting requirements could supplement federal money laundering law enforcement efforts.

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