A bipartisan group of senators comprising Chuck Grassley (R. Iowa), Elizabeth Warren (D, Mass.), and Raphael Warnock (D. Ga.) has recently addressed concerns to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) regarding delays in the implementation of whistleblower awards related to reporting money laundering and sanctions violations. The senators expressed their unease three years after the enactment of a bill mandating the program, highlighting the lack of progress in its execution.
The establishment of FinCEN's Anti-Money Laundering (AML) whistleblower program was included in the 2021 national defense bill, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. This initiative aims to reward Treasury or Justice Department employees who provide original information regarding potential violations of the Bank Secrecy Act that result in monetary sanctions exceeding $1 million.
Under this program, whistleblowers stand to have their monetary penalties reduced by up to 30%, with no specified minimum. Additionally, FinCEN has expanded its scope to include reports on sanctions evasion, as part of the omnibus spending bill for 2023.
In their letter addressed to FinCEN's director, Andrea Gacki, the senators expressed their dissatisfaction with the lack of a dedicated public website to receive tips and the absence of formalized rules for the whistleblower program, including the types of claims that can be reported. They emphasized the urgency of the matter, deeming the current situation "unacceptable" and warning of potential ramifications for national security and enforcement actions.
While a spokeswoman for FinCEN declined to comment directly on the letter, she emphasized the agency's commitment to the successful implementation of its expanded mandate, including the whistleblower program.
It is understood that the senators have set a deadline of February 23 for FinCEN to provide explanations for the delayed implementation of the program, along with details on the number of tips received and whether guidance has been sought from other government whistleblower offices, such as the one established by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
By fLEXI tEAM