Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN)


What is a Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN)?

The Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is a bureau of the U.S. Department of Treasury charged with combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other financial crimes. FinCEN collects financial transaction information from banks and other financial institutions, analyzes this data for intelligence, issues regulations to support its mission, and provides guidance on how to comply with relevant laws and regulations. The agency works in collaboration with law enforcement agencies and regulators to investigate suspicious activity that could indicate criminal or terrorist activity as well as detect potential risks in the banking system. FinCEN also cooperates internationally in efforts to combat money laundering, terrorism finance, fraud, tax evasion and other forms of financial crime. It is an essential tool for protecting our nation's financial system and ensuring the integrity of our economy. Additionally, FinCEN is a crucial resource for financial institutions to have an understanding of money laundering and terrorist finance threats that could potentially affect their business activities. By working together with law enforcement, regulators and the private sector, FinCEN is able to combat financial crime and secure our economic system.

Simplified Example

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is like a detective agency that helps police catch bad guys who use money to do bad things. Imagine there is a group of detectives that are specially trained to follow the money trails of criminals and figure out how they are using it to commit crimes, just like FinCEN. FinCEN is a government agency that helps police and other law enforcement agencies track financial crimes, like money laundering and terrorist financing. They collect information from financial institutions and share it with law enforcement agencies to help them catch criminals. It's like a detective agency that helps police catch bad guys who use money to do bad things and make the world a safer place.


Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs): FinCEN is responsible for administering the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), which requires financial institutions to file SARs with FinCEN when they detect suspicious activity that may indicate money laundering, terrorism financing, or other financial crimes. FinCEN receives millions of SARs each year and uses them to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. For example, in 2020, FinCEN used SARs to help uncover a large international money laundering scheme involving an online auction platform.

Geographic Targeting Orders (GTOs): FinCEN has the authority to issue GTOs, which require certain businesses, such as real estate brokers or dealers in precious metals and stones, to collect and report information about their customers' transactions in specific geographic areas. GTOs are used to identify and track the movement of illicit funds and can help law enforcement to uncover financial crimes. For example, in 2019, FinCEN issued a GTO requiring certain businesses in the luxury real estate market to report information about their customers' transactions in six major metropolitan areas in the United States.

Information sharing: FinCEN plays a key role in facilitating information sharing between law enforcement agencies and financial institutions. FinCEN operates the FinCEN Exchange, which is a platform for law enforcement and financial institutions to share information about emerging threats and best practices. The FinCEN Exchange has helped to improve the speed and effectiveness of law enforcement investigations and has led to the identification and disruption of numerous financial crimes. For example, in 2021, FinCEN used the FinCEN Exchange to help uncover a large scheme involving fraudulent unemployment insurance claims.