A bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Reps. Steve Pearce (R-NM) and Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) aimed at detecting and preventing terrorism and other illicit finance activity passed the U.S. House of Representatives today. The FinCEN Improvement Act would modernize the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) authorizing statute to ensure the law enforcement and intelligence communities work together to detect and stop criminals and terrorist networks.
"As lawmakers, we must make sure that we are doing everything in our power to provide law enforcement and intelligence communities with the ability to prevent illicit uses of our nation's financial system. This legislation will ensure that FinCEN is able to track down financial crimes wherever they may occur--whether that is on tribal lands or in a case involving virtual currency. I am thankful to my colleagues within this committee for working diligently on this topic and am pleased to see this very important piece of legislation pass out of the House of Representatives," said Pearce.
"Identifying and combatting the financing of terrorism and other illicit activity is key to keeping the U.S. safe. We need to be prepared and stay vigilant as we examine how terrorists and criminals use cryptocurrencies and other emerging technologies as well as traditional financing methods. This legislation will help FinCEN and our law enforcement agencies better understand potential threats and adapt to the continually changing landscape," said Perlmutter.
A bureau within the U.S. Department of the Treasury, FinCEN's mission is to protect the American financial system from money laundering and other illicit uses though the collection, analysis and dissemination of financial intelligence. Currently, FinCEN's authorizing statute is limited to combatting "international terrorism," which leaves out domestic terrorist activity which is just as important to protecting our communities. H.R. 6411 would update FinCEN's authorizing statute to include domestic terrorist activity and prioritizes emerging methods of financing illicit activity, including cryptocurrencies. Additionally, the legislation ensures FinCEN has the authority to work with Tribal law enforcement across the country, building upon the existing relationships with partners in foreign, Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies.
Pearce and Perlmutter lead the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance, with Pearce serving as the subcommittee's Chairman and Perlmutter as its Ranking Member. The Subcommittee has held numerous hearings and meetings discussing cryptocurrencies and the role they play in financing illicit activities and terrorist groups, including a recent hearing on September 7th which examined terrorist groups and their means of financing illicit activity.
During that hearing Yaya Fanusie, Director of Analysis for the Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance and Foundation for Defense Democracies stated:
"Terrorist groups regularly adapt their methods to their available resources, skill levels, and the opportunities presented in their target areas of operations. This is as true for financing as it is for plotting attacks. Terrorist organizations have a long history of exploiting banks and other traditional financial institutions, as well as semi-formal means of transferring funds, such as the hawala exchange system. But emerging financial technologies offer new channels to raise and move funds."