WASHINGTON Nov 13 Top banks, including Bank of
America, will be part of a new government-led review of U.S.
money-laundering rules, a top Treasury Department official said
A group co-led by the director of Treasury's anti-money
laundering agency, Jennifer Shasky Calvery, and Bank of America
Corp executives will compare the actual risks in the
financial system to the risks regulators have focused on,
Calvery said in a speech at a trade conference.
The group will function as a subcommittee of the Bank
Secrecy Act advisory group, a group of public officials and
industry executives which advises Treasury on anti-money
laundering compliance issues.
Other representatives from banks, broker-dealers and other
financial institutions are expected to get involved with the new
review, but the time frame for the review was unclear.
A Bank of America spokeswoman did not immediately respond to
a request for comment.
Banks spend millions of dollars a year to comply with
anti-money laundering rules, including reporting suspicious
transactions to authorities, and the goal of the new group is to
build a "smarter, more cost-efficient" system, Calvery said at
the American Bankers Association anti-money laundering
Banks have long been concerned they spend more time making
sure they comply with the letter of regulations, than they do
looking for illegal transactions.
Calvery told reporters a common refrain she heard from the
industry was: "We spend quite a bit of money dealing with the
places that our regulators are asking us to look... and we're
not convinced those places are always the same places as where
the actual illicit financing risk may be."
Money-laundering issues have caused major banks to stumble
in recent years. HSBC last week announced it had set aside $1.5
billion to cover potential money laundering fines.
The new review, Calvery said, will feed into a larger task
force the Obama administration announced Monday to examine the
sprawling net of anti-money laundering rules and fix gaps or
Calvery joined Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement
Network (FinCEN) in September from the Justice Department, where
she ran its asset forfeiture and anti-money laundering unit.
Industry executives had worried that that background meant
Calvery's focus at the agency would be stepping up enforcement.
The new public-private review appears to be a way to soothe such