Washington, DC— Today, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04) introduced the Special Measures to Fight Modern Threats Act in the Senate and House. The bills would further empower the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the Treasury Department to enact special measures against international individuals or entities engaged in money laundering. Currently, FinCEN is only able to act in instances where there is a nexus with the United States banking system. The provision removes that requirement, allowing FinCEN to pursue the activity of criminals who are actively avoiding the US banking system using cryptocurrencies or other means.

A version of the bill passed the House in January as a provision in the America COMPETES Act.

“All around the world, bad actors are looking to launder their dirty money and they’re finding ways to do so outside our banking system, in cryptocurrencies and other avenues,” said Warner.  “Especially now, as we work to enforce sanctions on an increasingly aggressive Russia, we need to make sure that neither Putin nor his cronies are able to circumvent these penalties. This legislation will give FinCEN important additional tools to help squash criminal enterprises attempting to avoid U.S. anti-money laundering enforcement.”

“Drug smugglers, arms runners, sex traffickers, slavers, and other criminals will use any means necessary to avoid having their assets seized or frozen,” said Himes.  “If there are mechanisms through which the bad guys can hide their money, they will use them. Right now, FinCEN is trying to fight with one hand tied behind its back. This provision will allow them to follow the money trail, wherever it leads, and shut it down, while maintaining the transparent public-comment period as it exists now.”

While allowing FinCEN to pursue international criminal activity in financial institutions and transactions outside the banking sector, the provision maintains the four-month public-comment period. The bill was developed with input from privacy experts and members of the digital asset community to ensure it protects transparency and provides accountability for FinCEN when it takes action.

For more information, contact Patrick Malone at Patrick.malone@mail.house.gov or Rachel Cohen at Rachel_Cohen@warner.senate.gov.