On April 27, the Financial Services Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance held a hearing entitled Safeguarding the Financial System from Terrorist Financing to examine information sharing and data collection practices at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and assess how the process could be improved. According to a Committee memorandum released in advance of the hearing, the hearing was also called for the purposes of considering whether to amend the Bank Secrecy Act and USA PATRIOT Act to improve FinCEN’s effectiveness in disrupting terrorist financing and money laundering.

Jamal El-Hindi, the Acting Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) at the Department of the Treasury, was the only witness. For just over an hour, the Acting Director offered testimony and answered questions concerning, among other things, the collection, analysis and dissemination of Bank Secrecy Act data and information sharing between the public and private sectors. Mr. El-Hindi also discussed several new and evolving money laundering and terrorist financing challenges, including potential money laundering vulnerabilities associated with “all cash” real estate transactions, virtual currency, and cybersecurity.

In a statement delivered by Rep. Maxin Waters (D-CA), the Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, the Congresswoman noted, among other things, that “high-end U.S. real estate is a key sector used by corrupt foreign leaders, drug traffickers and other criminals to launder illicit money.” The Ranking Member explained further that she “find[s] it disturbing that FinCEN continues to largely exempt the real-estate sector from even the most basic anti-money laundering requirements,” and urged the regulator to “take more urgent action to address these risks nationwide and on a permanent basis.”

A video recording of the hearing may be accessed here.

A copy of Acting Director El-Hindi’s prepared testimony may be accessed here.