Feds keep watch on money-laundering Whales
By Paul
The US Treasury is looking to crack down on money laundering by requiring “suspicious” transactions over $3000 to be reported. The treasury’s financial crimes center has evidence from 1998 and 1999 that casinos were used for money laundering, prompting the publication of new rules explaining what “the objective standard” should be for determining what constitutes a “suspicious transaction.”

According to the Treasury, the laundering would involve criminals wiring advance deposits to casinos, then turn up to cash them in for chips, then straight into cash again. Over a two-year period, the Treasury examined 40 casinos and found an estimated $4.6 million in wire transfer deposits and $820,000 in cashier’s cheques laundered this way. In each case, “the customer gambled minimally or not at all.”

According to Treasury spokesperson Jane Fisher, casinos have been required to report suspicious activities since 1996, and the new rules are merely clarification of objective standards for judging whether a transaction is suspicious.

Fisher says the Nevada Gaming Control board operates its won independent casino regulations, but the government aims to make Nevada casinos comply with federal regulations.

The National Consumer Coalition, coalition of various libertarian interest groups, contends the government is violating the privacy of gamblers and trying to impose 'know your gambler' rules on the casino industry to supply the government with the names, Social Security numbers and other personal information on gamblers.

The group maintains that law enforcement agencies don’t properly use the information that the Treasury already has, and predicts the regulations will only produce 'a massive haystack of irrelevant and petty reports.'

The USA Patriot Act, which Congress passed in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, will apply similar reporting measures to other businesses, such as jewelers and cheque-cashing stores. The Treasury Department is to draft regulations carrying out the new law in June.

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