WASHINGTON (6/10/14)--Although the U.S. Treasury Department allows the country's intelligence agencies to access reports that financial institutions file, under the Bank Secrecy Act, on suspicious or large money transfers by their members or customers, the department said that it sets limits on the information it shares (Bloomberg June 9).
The department released its information-sharing protocol over the weekend, saying it was doing so in response to a public records request. It described how information is shared in bulk with the National Counterterrorism Center, the organization with authority to collect, store and analyze data collections on U.S. citizens. The NCTC uses pattern analysis to search for suspicious behavior.
Bloomberg quoted NCTC Director Matthew Olsen as stating that financial dates can be some of the most relevant as to how people are connected. He added that it is vital that his center have access to Trasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) database.
U.S. financial institutions file more than 15 million currency-transaction reports each year. CTRs are required for any money transfer of $10,000 or more into or out of an account. Also, more than 1.5 million suspicious-activity reports are filed annually by financial institutions, brokerages, money-transfer businesses and casinos.
FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery told Bloomberg in an interview that the information that it shares is not raw data--it's already been flagged as suspicious. Also, she said, the information-sharing protocol seeks to balance privacy and the prevention of national-security threats.