On October 26, National Financial Crime Fighter Day recognizes the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) professionals. Because not all superheroes wear capes. Sometimes, they wear business suits, dresses, or jeans and serve in the back offices of financial institutions. These are the people who protect the United States financial industry. They include law enforcement officers and other government personnel.
History Of Financial Crime
During the 1960s and 70s, the drug wars created an increase in illicit and illegal earnings entering the United States financial system, funding more criminal activity – including drug and human trafficking.
Congress passed the Banking Secrecy Act (BSA) in 1970 to create better anti-money laundering (AML) efforts and prevent financing of criminal activities. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the BSA was reinforced. Congress introduced the USA PATRIOT Act. Signed on October 26, 2001, it cemented the critical role of BSA and AML professionals.
BSA and AML professionals work tirelessly around the clock to protect our financial system. While banking regulations evolved and enforcement increased, the mandate of the BSA Officer remains the same. They are the first line of defense in the protection of our financial system from illegal and terrorist activity. They stop drug cartel money from returning to their country of origin. BSA Officers prevent human traffickers from financing their operations. Their investigations uncover movements that preclude terrorists from funding their activities. Throughout their work, the BSA Officer works interminably and monitors it all.
This role also comes with substantial ramifications. BSA professionals face large amounts of stress and little tolerance for errors. In recent years, BSA professionals have been held personally liable with jail time or hefty fines for loose BSA/AML programs at their institutions. Combined, these characteristics demonstrate the significance of their role and its importance to our national security.
While the burden of such responsibility rarely comes with recognition, a day like National Financial Crime Fighter Day creates an opportunity to show appreciation. The day specifically honors the dedicated BSA and ALM professionals across the country. The day also provides a way to raise awareness of their on-going efforts to protect the financial system and obstruct criminal activity.