Financial crimes in the US: the current state of affairs and how to change it


John Cassara, former US Treasury Special Agent and one of the Directors of Global Financial Integrity, recently shared his views on financial crimes and how well we are prepared to tackle them. A summary of his views is provided here.

Financial crimes are taking a colossal toll on the economic and political stability of countries. In the US, crimes such as drug trafficking, gang violence, financial fraud, the proliferation of counterfeit goods, corruption, internet scams, tax evasion etc are impacting lives on a daily basis. Moreover, criminals are using technological advancements such as quantum cloud encryption and social media to their benefit.

Thanks to the laws promoting financial transparency, the US Department of Treasury records over 19 million pieces of financial intelligence from financial institutions each year. Still, the proceeds of international crime (excluding tax evasion) equal to $4 trillion a year. What is even more shocking is that domestic and international law enforcement recover less than one percent of this amount. In comparison, the AML programs run by government and industry cost tens of billions of dollars every year.

To overcome the ineptitude of the existing AML measures, the US must upgrade its AML strategy. It is crucial to increase data transparency and use advanced technology to improve money-laundering tracking systems. Moreover, it is indispensable to the success of any AML policy that financial criminals be held accountable for their actions.