The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury that collects and analyzes information about financial transactions in order to combat money laundering, terrorist financiers, and other financial crimes. FinCEN is responsible for collecting Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) which are used to report known or suspected violations of law or suspicious activity observed by financial institutions subject to the Bank Secrecy Act.  

Over the past several years, FinCEN has conducted SAR narrative assessments to identify reports of suspected money laundering in the real estate industry.  It has also proposed rulemaking to address money laundering.

Proposed Rulemaking

(July 15, 2009) FinCEN Seeks Comments on AML Plan for Non-Bank Mortgage Lenders and Originators
FinCEN published an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking: Anti-Money Laundering Program (AML) and Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) Requirements for Non-Bank Residential Mortgage Lenders and Originators. FinCen has not taken any further action on the matter since comments were due on August 20, 2009.

  1. FinCEN's incremental approach to regulating residential mortgage lending or origination.
  2. Definitions of those engaged in such activities.
  3. Money laundering risks posed by non-bank residential mortgage lenders.
  4. How AML programs should be structured.
  5. SAR reporting.
  6. Whether any non-bank residential mortgage lenders and originators should be exempted from AML/SAR reporting requirements.

View NAR's comment letter (August 20, 2009)

Suspicious Activity Reports

In December 2006, FinCEN conducted an assessment of SAR reports on money laundering and related illicit financial activity in the commercial real estate sector. As a follow-up to that assessment, FinCEN conducted a similar assessment in April 2008 for the residential real estate industry. Both reports focus on trends in the reporting of suspicious activity in key businesses and professions in the commercial and residential real estate sector. The report also provides summaries of SARs that were reviewed for this study as well as examples of activities and transactions that may be indicative of money laundering and associated illicit financial activity.

Suspected Money Laundering in Residential Real Estate (April 2008)
Money Laundering in Commercial Real Estate Industry (December 2006)

FinCEN Mortgage Fraud Reports

Mortgage Loan Fraud Connections with Other Financial Crime (March 2009)
Filing Trends in Mortgage Loan Fraud (February 2009)
Mortgage Loan Fraud: An Update of Trends based Upon an Analysis of Suspicious Activity Reports (April 2008)
FinCEN Mortgage Loan Fraud Assessment (November 2006)

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