WASHINGTON (12/16/09)—Credit unions and other financial institutions that may struggle to keep up with reporting requirements under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) may or may not have a sympathetic response to recent government findings regarding the Financial Crimes Enforcement Agency (FinCEN). The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found in a recent study that FinCEN does not always do such a great job reporting detailed information to law enforcement agencies (LEAs). The Treasury Department bureau also sometimes fails to communicate adequately about the various types of products it can provide. On the plus side, the GAO report noted that of the 20 LEAs that responded to a question about which FinCEN services they found most useful, 16 cited direct access to BSA data--records of financial transactions possibly indicative of money laundering that FinCEN collects--as the most valuable service FinCEN provides. This backs up what FinCEN has been telling financial institutions for years regarding the value and use of the data providing through Suspicious Activity Reports and Currency Transaction Reports. . Additionally, 11 federal LEAs said a FinCEN tool that allows them to go through FinCEN to contact financial institutions nationwide to locate information related to ongoing investigations is an important service. And 16 said they value FinCEN’s increased development of complex analytic products, such as reports identifying trends and patterns in money laundering. However, three of five LEAs—of those identified by the bureau as its top users--complained that FinCEN does not provide detailed information about the various types of products it can provide. They also stated that they would like more information about when completed products become available. Two of these top users reported that FinCEN fails to communicate why it accepts some requests for support and rejects others. Nor does the agency seek law enforcement advice on planned analytic work, even though doing so, the report said, “could improve the quality and relevance of its products to its LEA customers”. “Communicating more detailed information to LEAs could help FinCEN ensure that it is effectively carrying out its mission to support the investigation and prosecution of financial crimes,” stated a summary. For more on the GAO report, use the resource link below.