Bank Secrecy Act

Treasury Can Improve Implementation of the Act Gao ID: GGD-86-95 June 11, 1986

In response to a congressional request, GAO: (1) reviewed the Department of the Treasury's management of the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970; (2) studied how law enforcement personnel use the act; and (3) examined the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data compiled as a result of the act.

GAO noted that the law requires individuals and institutions to file reports on: (1) currency transactions exceeding $10,000; (2) the movement of currency over $10,000 into or out of the United States; and (3) those having a financial interest in, or signature authority over, bank accounts, securities, accounts, or other financial accounts in a foreign country. GAO found that: (1) Treasury lacks information about how supporting agencies carry out their delegated duties; (2) Treasury does not know the extent to which agencies use the act in their criminal investigations and prosecutions; (3) between January 1985 and March 1986, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) experienced a major backlog of unprocessed reports; (4) the Customs Service processed its reports within a month of receipt; (5) Customs now provides feedback forms with reports sent to law enforcement agents and has proposed revised guidelines for disseminating data that would decrease the time law enforcement officials spend on obtaining certain types of data; (6) Customs and IRS are the primary users of the act and its data in Florida and California; (7) the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration use the act and its data in investigations and prosecutions of crimes other than currency violations; and (8) Treasury and the Department of Justice are considering amending the act's implementing regulations to clarify the reporting requirements.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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