Skip links

AMLA 2020: Sweeping New AML Laws Have Broad Impacts on All Financial Crimes

By Don Fort, Christopher M. Ferguson, and Olivia Renensland
The White Collar Crime Committee Newsletter, published by the ABA Criminal Justice Section’s White Collar Crime Committee
Winter/Spring 2021

On January 1, 2021, following House and Senate overrides of a presidential veto, the National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) for Fiscal Year 2021 passed into law. Embedded in the NDAA are the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (“AMLA” or the “Act”) and the Corporate Transparency Act (“CTA”), which together constitute the most sweeping anti-money laundering legislation in twenty years.

The anti-money laundering (“AML”) and counter-terrorism financing (“CTF”) aspects of these laws, which have received the most press attention to date, only partially explain the extensive impact that AMLA will have on investigations and prosecutions. This article explores the broader implications that AMLA will have on the investigation of more traditional financial crime going forward, including criminal tax enforcement, securities fraud, acts of foreign corruption, and other financial fraud. This article will focus on four areas in particular:

(1) The CTA’s creation of a beneficial ownership registry to track the ownership of certain shell and other small corporations that are frequently used as fronts for illicit activities,

(2) The significant augmentation of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s (“FinCEN”) authority and tools, especially with respect to spearheading cooperation and public-private partnerships,

(3) The inclusion of virtual currency exchanges as money service businesses,  and

(4) The expansion of U.S. law enforcement’s ability to subpoena foreign bank records from foreign institutions who maintain a correspondent banking relationship in the United States.


Click here for the full article