Two bills were introduced in Congress last month that would impose penalties upon executives for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act and increase the Treasury Department's anti-money laundering authority.

The "Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act," H.R. 3331, would impose new uniform beneficial ownership and reporting requirements for newly incorporated firms. The "Holding Individuals Accountable and Deterring Money Laundering Act," H.R. 3317, would raise the maximum penalty for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act to $10 million and authorize the Treasury Department "to ensure that penalty amounts are commensurate with the nature of the violations, any patterns of violations, and, with respect to a financial institution or non-financial trade or business, the size, capitalization and market share of such institution or trade or business."

H.R. 3317 would also increase the maximum prison term for willful evasion of the anti-money laundering laws from 5 years to 20. And require in "any case in which the Department of Justice settles a case with an individual or institution . . . in exchange for a monetary penalty, the Department shall report to the Congress on why it did or did not pursue prison sentences in conjunction with the monetary penalty." The bill would also give the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network ("FinCEN") independent litigation authority, impose anti-money laundering compliance and certification requirements upon firms, and create a new whistleblower program similar to that of the SEC.

Recent speeches made by Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry and FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery discussed regulatory concern for perceived anti-money laundering weaknesses. Curry expressed disappointment with corporate governance processes that, he believes, are too weak to support a culture of compliance and management unwillingness to commit adequate resources to the task.

Both Curry and Calvery noted the importance of information sharing in efforts to combat money laundering. In her remarks before the American Bankers Association/American Bar Association Money Laundering Enforcement Conference, Calvery discussed Section 314(b) of the USA PATRIOT Act, which provides financial institutions with the ability to share information with one another, under a safe harbor that offers protections from liability, in order to better identify and report potential money laundering or terrorist activities. See also Section 314(b) Fact Sheet. In addition, FinCEN's new Intelligence Division is implementing a means by which its analytical products will be provided to others, including industry.