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Patriot Act – 314(a)

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December 23, 2014
FinCEN’s 314(a) Fact Sheet
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) provides a unique service to law
enforcement to help locate financial assets and recent transactions by subjects of criminal
investigations.
This program is in furtherance of Section 314(a) of the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 (P.L.
107-56), which requires the Secretary of the Treasury to adopt regulations to encourage
regulatory and law enforcement authorities to share with financial institutions
information regarding individuals, entities, and organizations engaged in or reasonably
suspected, based on credible evidence, of engaging in terrorist acts or money laundering
activities. FinCEN established the 314a Program through the issuance of a rule (finalized
in 2002 and, as amended, now at 31 CFR Part 1010.520), which requires certain financial
institutions to search their records and identify if they have responsive information with
respect to the particular investigative subject.
Overview
FinCEN’s regulations under Section 314(a) enable federal, state, local, and foreign (European
Union) law enforcement agencies, through FinCEN, to reach out to more than 43,000 points of
contact at more than 22,000 financial institutions to locate accounts and transactions of persons
that may be involved in terrorism or money laundering.
FinCEN receives requests from law enforcement and upon review, sends notifications to
designated contacts within financial institutions across the country once every 2 weeks informing
them new information has been made available via a secure Internet web site. The requests
contain subject and business names, addresses, and as much identifying data as possible to assist
the financial industry in searching their records. The financial institutions must query their
records for data matches, including accounts maintained by the named subject during the
preceding 12 months and transactions conducted within the last 6 months. Financial institutions
have 2 weeks from the posting date of the request to respond with any positive matches. If the
search does not uncover any matching of accounts or transactions, the financial institution is
instructed not to reply to the 314(a) request.
FinCEN began processing 314(a) requests in November 2002. This system was temporarily
suspended, based on feedback from system users. Following extensive consultations, FinCEN
issued FAQ’s to implement and streamline the process and resumed operation of the system in
February 2003. Since that time, as with any new system, the process continues to be fine-tuned.
The Process
Through an expedited communication system, FinCEN’s 314(a) process enables an investigator
to canvas the nation’s financial institutions for potential lead information that might otherwise
never be uncovered. The focus quickly zeros in on relevant locations and activities. This
cooperative partnership between the financial community and law enforcement allows disparate
bits of information to be identified, centralized and rapidly evaluated.
It is important to note, however, that Section 314(a) provides lead information only and is not a
substitute for a subpoena or other legal process. To obtain documents from a financial institution
that has reported a match, a law enforcement agency must meet the legal standards that apply to
the particular investigative tool that it chooses to use to obtain the documents.
To ensure that Section 314(a) inquiries are being used only for appropriate cases, FinCEN’s
Section 314(a) process requires law enforcement to provide assurances that the request has been
subject to appropriate scrutiny at the agency level and that the matter under investigation satisfies
FinCEN’s standards for processing a formal Section 314(a) inquiry. FinCEN requires all
requesters to submit a form certifying that the investigation is based on credible evidence of
terrorist financing or money laundering.
Criteria for Money Laundering Requests
Because money laundering encompasses such a wide range of underlying criminal activity,
agencies must determine that a money laundering case is significant before submitting a 314(a)
request to FinCEN. To ensure that this standard is met, FinCEN requires documentation
showing the size or impact of the case, the seriousness of the underlying criminal activity, the
importance of the case to a major agency program, and any other facts demonstrating its
significance.
In addition, law enforcement must certify in cases involving money laundering that all traditional
means of investigation have been exhausted. The support for the assertion that other
investigative alternatives have been exhausted or are unavailable must be provided in the form
submitted to FinCEN for review prior to the request being submitted to financial institutions by
FinCEN.
To date, the 314(a) process already has proved to be successful, as illustrated below.
Results have yielded productive leads for both terrorist financing and money laundering
investigations. The immediate matches have, for example, led to the identification of
new accounts, transactions, indictments, etc. and enabled law enforcement to efficiently
direct its use of legal processes to promptly obtain critical evidence in numerous cases.
Examples of 314(a) requests, based on money laundering, include:


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Hawala operation involving a sanctioned country
Arms trafficking
Alien smuggling resulting in fatalities
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
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Cigarette smuggling
Nationwide investment fraud with many victims
International criminal network involved in identity theft and wire fraud
Multi-agency investigation of drug trafficking rings
Healthcare and Medicare Fraud
Results
To date, the 314 Program Office has processed 2,362 requests pertinent to the following
significant criminal investigations:
Terrorism/Terrorist Financing – 459 cases
Money Laundering – 1,903 cases
These requests included 26,658 subjects of interest. Of these, financial institutions have
responded with 161,043 total subject matches.
Feedback from Law Enforcement
Based upon the forty percent of 314(a) feedback that has been received from the law
enforcement requesters, the following information has been provided. The aggregate
numbers yielded from all of the feedback responses factored by the number of related
requests, reveal that, on the average, there were:
8.2
16.2
7.3
New Accounts Identified per request
New Transactions Identified per request
Follow up initiatives taken by Law Enforcement with Financial
Institutions per request
In order to streamline the overall efficiency of the feedback reporting process, FinCEN
has revised the feedback form that law enforcement utilizes to report feedback to our
agency. To incorporate these latest enhancements which combine certain reporting
elements, we are currently reporting the indictment and arrest statistics in two separate
categories as follows:
Based on the total feedback we received using the previous feedback reporting form, 47%
of 314(a) requests have contributed to arrests and 54% of 314(a) requests have
contributed to indictments.
Based on the total feedback we have received using the current revised feedback
reporting form, 95% of 314(a) requests have contributed to arrests or indictments.
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