One way that federal law enforcement agencies guard against white collar crime is through bank reporting requirements. One set of requirements that is specifically designed to help identify crime such as money laundering is the Bank Secrecy Act, which was signed into law in 1970.

The Bank Secrecy Act is the common name for a law titled the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act. The law requires banks to follow certain requirements when it comes to reporting and record keeping. For the purpose of the act, credit unions and certain other financial institutions are included in the definition of bank.

The Bank Secrecy Act is implemented under the joint guidance of a number of financial agencies, including the National Credit Union Administration, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

The purpose of the reporting requirements within the act are so that agencies can identify suspicious financial activity that might point to money laundering, illicit financial transactions or terrorism. As with any wide reporting net, though, innocent transactions can get caught in the process. In many cases, transactions that could look suspicious might have a completely legitimate foundations, particularly for individuals and businesses with international holdings or partners.

When faced with questions, concerns or charges related to your business or personal financial transactions, its important to understand both the law and how to present your case. A solid criminal defense strategy should make a case for how and why your transactions were legitimate despite what federal reporting and agencies might think. A defense is essential to protect both yourself and your assets.

Source: National Credit Union Administration, “Bank Secrecy Act,” accessed Aug. 07, 2015