Locking FinCEN out of intelligence networks hampering its efforts to curb financial crime

A new report is suggesting that the operations of the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) are being compromised by it being blocked from the classified networks it needs to investigate financial crime.

The revelations have emerged in the context of FinCEN, the lead enforcement agency in US efforts to curb trade-based financial crime, being unable to electronically access records that enable it to identify and expose terror cells in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Europe.

Network investigations

The report published on the BuzzFeed News web site says FinCEN officers were shut out of networks they needed to investigate bank accounts associated with terrorists identified as perpetrating the 3 June 2017 attacks on civilians on London Bridge in which eight people were killed and 48 injured.

Everyone on duty at FinCEN had been blocked from the classified networks their response depended upon and they could not open links emailed by the FBI about the suspected terrorists they were supposed to be chasing.

Neither could they begin following the threads connecting those suspects to the people who had been funding and supporting them.


Several explanations have emerged as to why FinCEN personnel were locked out.

One explanation is that treasury officials have limited FinCEN’s network because it is seen as necessary to limit access to classified systems to protect against so-called insider threats such the document leaks by Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.

Digital keys

Another is that this was a move in an internal power struggle between FinCEN and another unit in the treasury department, the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (OIA), which controls the digital keys to classified computer networks.

OIA officers may have withheld the keys, or it could be that there was simple bureaucratic delay in the renewal of the keys.

The full BuzzFeed News report can be found here.

Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News

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