United States' measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing

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United States

Mutual Evaluation of the United States - 2016

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United States' measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing

Paris, 1 December 2016 - The United States has a well-developed and robust anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CFT) regime through which it is effectively investigating and prosecuting money laundering and terrorist financing. However, the system has serious gaps that impede timely access to beneficial ownership information.

The FATF and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) conducted a Mutual Evaluation of the United States.

The U.S. dollar’s global dominance and the large volumes of daily transactions through its banks expose the U.S. to substantial money laundering risks. It also faces significant terrorist financing risks due to the unique openness and global reach of its financial system, and the direct threat terrorist groups pose to U.S. interests. The U.S. has a significant level of understanding of these risks.

Terrorism and its financing have the highest priority, and the U.S. is highly effective in this area. It proactively and aggressively investigates, prosecutes and convicts individuals for terrorist financing and can capture any form of material support. The U.S. appears to have kept terrorist funds out of its financial system to a large extent by effectively implementing targeted financial sanctions. Proliferation financing is also a high priority for the U.S. and it has effectively frozen large volumes of assets through its sanctions programs.

The U.S. aggressively pursues high-value confiscation and has been very effective, as the considerable value of confiscations each year demonstrates (over USD 4.4 billion in 2014).

National coordination and cooperation on AML/CFT issues has improved significantly since the last evaluation, in particular on counter-terrorism, counter-proliferation and related financing issues. The federal law enforcement agencies make good use of their extensive  investigation capabilities and intelligence. Authorities pursue a wide variety of money laundering activity, in particular complex and high-dollar value criminal offences, resulting in over 1 200 money laundering convictions per year.

The U.S. also has a substantially effective system for international cooperation, and provides good quality and constructive mutual legal assistance and extradition.

Risk mitigation through  the regulatory framework is less well-developed and has some significant gaps, including minimal coverage of investment advisers, lawyers, accountants, real estate agents, trust and company service providers (other than trust companies).

AML/CFT supervision of the banking and securities sectors appears to be robust as a whole. The U.S. has a range of sanctions and dissuasive remedial measures that it can and does impose on financial institutions. However, while the U.S. placed a strong supervisory focus on the casino sector in recent years, the lack of comprehensive AML/CFT supervision for other designated non-financial businesses and professions is a significant supervisory gap. The Federal authorities have a good understanding of the risks of complex structures of legal persons and arrangements being used to hide ownership and launder money. However, serious gaps in the legal framework prevent access to accurate beneficial ownership information in a timely manner. Fundamental improvements are needed in these areas.

This report was adopted by the FATF at its Outcomes of the Plenary meeting of the FATF, Paris, 19-21 October 2016.


Download the report: 

Mutual Evaluation of the United States - 2016

Mutual Evaluation of the United States, 2016 - Executive Summary



More information: 

The FATF Recommendations

Methodology 2013