Moral Outrage
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FinCEN and the unpaid spies of the US financial system

There’s a little known division of the Treasury Department called the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) whose mission is to “to enhance U.S. national security, deter and detect criminal activity, and safeguard financial systems from abuse by promoting transparency in the U.S. and international financial systems.”

FinCEN is basically the CIA of the financial system. But unlike the CIA which is technically not allowed to spy on US citizens and typically has to pay informants, FinCEN has complete legal authority over US persons. And they’ve managed to turn the entire financial system into the world’s largest network of informants.

Simply put, your banker is an unpaid, often unwilling spy of the US government. FinCEN is the executive agency tasked with ensuring that every US banker is an unpaid government spy through Suspicious Activity Reports.

A Suspicious Activity Report, or SAR, includes details of any transaction that may be deemed ‘suspicious’. Naturally, there’s no clear guidance on what is/is not considered suspicious. Banks, brokerages, money service businesses, precious metals dealers… even casinos are required by law to fill them out.

If you withdraw an unusual amount of cash from your bank account, that could be deemed suspicious. If you set up a new payee in your billpay service, that could be deemed suspicious. Anything and everything is fair game.

Banks and other businesses who do not fill out SARs face hefty penalties, including imprisonment. If they disclose to a customer that s/he is the subject of a SAR, they have hefty penalties, including imprisonment. When push comes to shove and they have to choose between a nasty penalty, or submitting a SAR about your unusual cash withdrawal, which option do you think they’ll pick?

Unsurprisingly, nearly 1.5 million ‘suspicious activity reports’ were filed across the US banking system in 2011, well over twice the number reported in 2004.

[ZeroHedge]

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