The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has updated their Geographic Targeting Order (GTO) effective May 21, 2018. The GTO issued, expanded and extended over the last couple of years was published for public knowledge and we have seen the details in the Preliminary Reports received from our title companies. The requirements of the new order have been laid out in a confidential agreement between FinCEN and American Land Title Association (ALTA). Because title companies cannot disclose the requirements of the new order we are being told by them, effective May 21, 2018, ALL real estate sale/purchase transactions, closing with any title company, will require an ALTA Information Collection Form (“ICF”) to be fully completed on the Buyer and returned to the title officer, for review, as soon as possible. If a pending transaction requires the title company to collect additional forms and documentation, the title company will delay any pending transaction and will not close until all conditions have been met.
The title companies have been authorized to provide the below statement:
“The Company is required by Federal law to collect additional information about certain transactions in specified geographic areas in accordance with the Bank Secrecy Act. If this transaction is required to be reported under a Geographic Targeting Order issued by FinCEN, the Company must be supplied with a completed ICF prior to ensuring the transaction contemplated herein.”
You may contact the FinCEN Resource Center to confirm the existence of the GTO for third parties at 1-800-767-2825, 1-703-905-3591 or by email to FRC@fincen.gov. The website is www.fincen.gov/how-contact-fincen.
What is FinCEN? Established in 1990, FinCEN is a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Its mission is “to safeguard the financial system from illicit use and combat money laundering and promote national security through the collection, analysis, and dissemination of financial intelligence and strategic use of financial authorities.” FinCEN fulfills its mission by receiving and maintaining financial transactions data, analyzing and disseminating that data for law enforcement purposes, and building global cooperation with counterpart organizations in other countries and with international bodies. FinCEN’s authority comes from the Currency and Financial Transactions Reporting Act of 1970, as amended by Title III of the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 and other legislation. This legislative framework is commonly referred to as the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).
What is the Bank Secrecy Act? The Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) is the primary U.S. anti-money laundering (AML) law and tool for detecting, deterring and disrupting terrorist financing networks. The BSA authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to issue regulations requiring banks and other financial institutions to take a number of precautions against financial crime, including the establishment of anti-money laundering programs and the filing of reports. See 31 U.S.C. 310.
Links to information on FinCEN and the GTO: