U.S. financial institutions' obligations to know their customers have for years been implicit in anti-money laundering rules, but the time has come for an explicit rule to clarify and strengthen those requirements, especially with regard to accounts held by legal entities, the U.S. Treasury Department said on Wednesday.
Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), proposed such a rule and called for industry feedback. It cited concerns about "shell" companies that aid money laundering, terrorism financing, weapons proliferation and tax evasion by hiding the identities of participants from law enforcement authorities in the United States and abroad.
Ideally, financial institutions can mitigate such risks by conducting customer due diligence (CDD), which involves obtaining so-called "beneficial ownership" information necessary to reveal the people behind the legal documents.
Although AML regulations stemming from the USA Patriot Act clearly require CDD and more thorough
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