The partial US government shutdown, now the longest in history, has impaired the ability of the country to maintain many of its efforts to counter and contain trade-based financial crime.

The US treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) says the shutdown “severely restricts the conduct of business by agencies during a lapse of appropriations” and has implemented emergency contingency plans.

Services unavailable

FinCEN will not be responding to routine requests for financial intelligence submitted by foreign law enforcement agencies.

Neither will it be working on regulatory guidance or rulemaking as its normal workforce of 285 has been reduced to just 130 employees.

Skeleton services

FinCEN will however continue to supply financial intelligence to US law enforcement and intelligence agencies in support of money laundering and terror finance investigations.

The network will also continue to maintain the IT systems that banks and other financial institutions use to file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) and other filings required by the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).

Safety compromised

Longer-term projects to develop strategic policy have been shelved, as have routine, non-time sensitive BSA compliance investigations and enforcement actions.

FinCEN has also suspended the development of geographic and industry assessments, comprehensive reference materials, and other strategic analysis efforts.

“Forgoing these critical functions may prevent law enforcement and intelligence agencies from receiving timely information related to potential terrorism or ongoing crimes which potentially compromises safety of life and property,” a document on the US treasury web site says.