The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is a division of the United States Treasury Department. It fights financial crimes, especially money laundering and terrorist financing. FinCEN formed in 1990 to serve as the designated administrator of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).

FinCEN officially became part of the U.S. Treasury in 2002 when the USA Patriot Act of 2001 passed. This move effectively increased its authority to enforce anti-money laundering laws. Its main approach is to collect, analyze, and communicate financial intelligence.


FinCEN ensures financial institutions have an anti-money laundering program that includes transaction monitoring and suspicious activity reporting. It releases quarterly reports on individuals potentially engaging in financial crimes. In addition to anti-money laundering, it also keeps track of individuals who are at high risk for corruption.

To meet its goals, FinCEN bridges sources of information provided by other agencies and partners. By using its vast network of resources, it finds active financial criminals and intercepts plans to commit future crimes. It uses advanced search engines and a Currency and Banking Retrieval System. These tools help FinCEN identify suspicious individuals and criminal activity in the financial system.

Along with its network of resources, FinCEN has the authority to directly request important information from financial institutions and organizations. The information that it compiles enables it to survey the financial industry not only in the U.S. but also internationally.

As a dynamic organization, FinCEN considers the ever-changing quality of the financial industry in order to update its goals. This involves redefining key parameters to involve the monitoring of newly popular forms of currency, such as Bitcoin and cryptocurrency.


People generally support the goals of FinCEN. However, there have been some concerns over the way that it handles the prosecution of financial crimes. In particular, people have questioned the intense scrutiny that it places on smaller businesses.

Instead, some believe it should focus its efforts on widely known money launderers and criminals. As a result, people have questioned the value of giving high authority to FinCEN in requesting financial information from organizations.

Finding the right compliance partner

Thankfully, Beam was founded by industry veterans who have vast experience with regulations requiring compliance. Beam provides transaction monitoring, sanctions screening, and other capabilities to prevent money laundering. These features meet FinCEN requirements and have a proven track record during audits.

And Beam provides a powerful tool for generating suspicious activity reports (SARs). It even files them directly with FinCEN to make your team’s workload much easier.

Request a demo today to see how Beam will transform compliance in your organization.