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Anti-money laundering (AML) is a term mainly used in the financial and legal industries to describe the legal controls that require financial institutions and other regulated entities to prevent or report money laundering activities. Anti-money laundering guidelines came into prominence globally after the September 11, 2001 attacks and the subsequent enactment of the USA PATRIOT Act.

Today, most financial institutions globally, and many non-financial institutions, are required to identify and report transactions of a suspicious nature to the financial intelligence unit in the respective country. For example, a bank must perform due diligence by ascertaining a customer's identity and monitor transactions for suspicious activity. To do this, many financial institutions utilize the services of special software, and use the services of companies such as C6 to gather information about high risk individuals and organizations.United Statesmarker federal law related to money laundering is implemented under the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 as amended by anti-money laundering acts up to the present. Many people have confused Anti-Money Laundering (AML) with Anti-Terrorist Financing (ATF). Under the Bank Secrecy Act of USA, Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing are classified into two different categories when financial institutions file Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) to Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) which is a US government agency. To effectively implement AML and ATF measures, The US government encourages financial institutions to work together for AML and ATF purposes in accordance with Section 314(b) of the USA PATRIOT Act. However, since financial institutions are required by law to protect the privacy of their clients, section 314(b) cooperation has not been generally adopted by financial institutions. To overcome this obstacle, the United Crimes Elimination Network (UCEN) has been established by AML and ATF professionals to achieve this global cooperation goal in compliance with the privacy laws of most countries.

In different countries and, depending on the activity, demand different action. For example; in the US a deposit of US$10,000 or more requires a CTR (Currency Transaction Report), in Europe it is EUR 15,000, and in Switzerland it is CHF 25,000. In some countries there is no CTR requirement. Suspicion of ML activity in the US requires the submission of a SAR, while in Switzerland a SAR will only get filed if that activity can be proved. As a result, thousands of SARs are filed daily in the US, while in Switzerland the rate is much lower.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimemarker maintains the International Money Laundering Information Network, a website that provides information and software for anti-money laundering data collection and analysis.


FINTRAC (Financial Transaction and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada) is responsible for investigation of money laundering and terrorist financing cases that are originating or destined for Canada. The financial intelligence unit was created by the amendment of the Proceeds of Crime Act in December 2001 (via Bill C-25) and created the Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act.

Financial institutions in Canada are required to track large cash transactions (daily total greater than CAD$10,000.00 or equivalent value in other currencies) that can be used to finance terrorist activities in and beyond Canada's borders these activities and report them to FINTRAC.


The financial services industry has become increasingly vocal about the rising costs of anti-money laundering regulation, and the limited benefits that appears to bring. As one commentator expresses the issue:

The Economist newspaper has become increasingly vocal in its criticism of such regulation, particularly with reference to countering terrorist financing, referring to it as a "costly failure".[170908]

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