Anti-Money Laundering: Efforts in the Securities Industry

GAO-02-111 Published: Oct 10, 2001. Publicly Released: Oct 24, 2001.
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To disguise illegally obtained funds, money launderers have traditionally targeted banks, which accept cash and arrange domestic and international fund transfers. However, criminals seeking to hide illicit funds may also be targeting the U.S. securities markets. Although few documented cases exist of broker-dealer or mutual fund accounts being used to launder money, law enforcement agencies are concerned that criminals may increasingly try to use the securities industry for that purpose. Most broker-dealers or firms that process customer payments for mutual funds are subject to U.S. anti-money laundering requirements. However, unlike banks, most of these firms are not required to report suspicious activities. The Treasury Department is now developing a rule requiring broker-dealers to report suspicious activities. Treasury expects that the rule will be issued for public comment by the end of this year. Various intergovernmental groups, such as the Financial Action Task Force, have been working on recommendations that call for member nations to take various steps to combat money laundering through their financial institutions, including requiring securities firms to report suspicious activities. Although many members countries report that they have issued all or many of these recommendations and have applied them to their securities firms, it is difficult to determine how well the measures are being implemented and enforced.

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