Anti-Terrorism Information Sharing is Strength Actby Representative Stephen F. Lynch
Posted on 2016-07-11
LYNCH. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I would like to just clarify that it was really the task force chairman, the gentleman from the State of Pennsylvania (Mr. Fitzpatrick), who set the tone for the bipartisan work between Members on both sides of the aisle. That has really carried the day and, I think, resulted in some very strong and effective legislation that came as a result of the work that many of the Members on both sides of the aisle here--Mr. Pittenger especially, and Mr. Fitzpatrick as well, and Members on our side--in dealing with a lot of the governments in the Middle East, some of the financial intelligence units that operate in Lebanon, but also in Jordan, in Turkey, in various countries in Africa, as well as some of the countries that my colleagues visited in South and Central America. So this is a global effort and, like I say, it is a bipartisan effort.
I rise today in support of H.R. 5606, legislation offered by my colleagues, Representatives Pittenger of North Carolina and Ms. Maxine Waters of California, that will enhance and promote the timely sharing of information among financial institutions and government agencies in order to more effectively thwart illicit finance.
In recent years, government officials have repeatedly emphasized the importance of strengthening and clarifying the information sharing provisions under current law. Expert witnesses before our committee have also echoed these sentiments over the course of the Financial Services Committee's Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing hearings.
The legislation before us today that I am proud to cosponsor will facilitate more effective information sharing in a number of ways.
First, the legislation provides assurances to financial institutions that they may report suspicious transactions without risking being exposed to civil litigation for simply complying with their obligations under Federal law. Although FinCEN, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which is our FIU in the United States, has already specified that financial institutions have complete protection from civil liability for all reports of suspicious transactions made to appropriate authorities. Some court rulings have cast doubt on the level of certainty a financial institution must have before reporting suspect transactions. H.R. 5606 eliminates this uncertainty in an effort to ensure the continued reporting of suspicious transactions.
Secondly, the bill seeks to enhance cooperation among financial institutions, also regulatory authorities and law enforcement, by expanding the range of counter-illicit financing information shared with financial institutions for the sole purpose of allowing such financial institutions to identify and report specified illicit activity.
Thirdly, H.R. 5606 expands the existing safe harbor for sharing information related to terrorist acts and money laundering to include a broader range of information related to illicit activity that is connected to money laundering and terrorist financing. In doing so, financial institutions and the government can more effectively connect the dots that are involved in mapping illicit financing networks.
Finally, the bill includes a study to assess the appropriate levels of information sharing between U.S. and foreign financial institutions, between U.S. financial institutions and their foreign subsidiaries, and between U.S. subsidiaries of foreign financial institutions and their parent institutions. This cooperation is ultimately necessary.
Given the central role of the U.S. financial system within the global economy and the sheer volume and diversity of transactions that pass through U.S. institutions, it is increasingly clear how essential it is to have a strong, coordinated U.S. Government and private sector response in the fight against terror finance.
H.R. 5606 will help promote the type of enhanced coordination that is needed to stay ahead of illicit behavior through the exploitation of our financial system.
Mr. Speaker, I urge all of our Members on both sides of the aisle to support this legislation.
I reserve the balance of my time.