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S. 3876: Special Measures to Fight Modern Threats Act

The text of the bill below is as of Mar 17, 2022 (Introduced).



2d Session

S. 3876


March 17, 2022

introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs


To amend title 31, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to place prohibitions or conditions on certain transmittals of funds in connection with jurisdictions, financial institutions, international transactions, or types of accounts of primary money laundering concern.


Short title

This Act may be cited as the Special Measures to Fight Modern Threats Act.



Congress finds the following:


The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (in this section referred to as FinCEN) is the financial intelligence unit of the United States tasked with safeguarding the financial system from illicit use, combating money laundering and its related crimes, including terrorism, and promoting national security.


Under law, FinCEN may require domestic financial institutions and financial agencies to take certain special measures against jurisdictions, institutions, classes of transactions, or types of accounts determined to be of primary money laundering concern, providing the Secretary with a range of options, such as enhanced record-keeping, that can be adapted to target specific money laundering and terrorist financing and to bring pressure on those that pose money laundering threats.


This special-measures authority was granted in 2001, when most cross-border transactions occurred through correspondent or payable-through accounts held with large financial institutions that serve as intermediaries to facilitate financial transactions on behalf of other banks.


Innovations in financial services have transformed and expanded methods of cross-border transactions that could not have been envisioned 20 years ago when FinCEN was given its special-measures authority.


These innovations, particularly through digital assets and informal value transfer systems, while useful to legitimate consumers and law enforcement, can be tools abused by bad actors like sanctions evaders, fraudsters, money launderers, and those who commit ransomware attacks on victimized United States companies and that abuse the financial system to move and obscure the proceeds of their crimes.


Ransomware attacks on United States companies requiring payments in cryptocurrencies have increased in recent years, with the Treasury estimating that ransomware payments in the United States reached $590,000,000 in just the first half of 2021, compared to a total of $416,000,000 in 2020.


In July 2021, the White House, with support of United States allies, asserted that the People’s Republic of China was responsible for ransomware operations against private companies that included demands of millions of dollars, including the 2021 ransomware attacks that breached Microsoft email systems and affected thousands of consumers, State and local municipalities, and government contractors attributed to a cyber espionage group with links to the Ministry of State Security of the People's Republic of China.


As ransomware attacks organized by Chinese and other foreign bad actors continue to grow in size and scope, modernizing the special-measure authorities of FinCEN will empower FinCEN to adapt its existing tools, monitor and obstruct global financial threats, and meet the challenges of combating 21st century financial crime.


Prohibitions or conditions on certain transmittals of funds

Section 5318A of title 31, United States Code, is amended—


in subsection (a)(2)(C), by striking subsection (b)(5) and inserting paragraphs (5) and (6) of subsection (b); and


in subsection (b)—


in paragraph (5), by striking for or on behalf of a foreign banking institution; and


by adding at the end the following:


Prohibitions or conditions on certain transmittals of funds

If the Secretary finds a jurisdiction outside of the United States, 1 or more financial institutions operating outside of the United States, 1 or more types of accounts within, or involving, a jurisdiction outside of the United States, or 1 or more classes of transactions within, or involving, a jurisdiction outside of the United States to be of primary money laundering concern, the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, may prohibit, or impose conditions upon, certain transmittals of funds (as such term may be defined by the Secretary in a special measure issuance, by regulation, or as otherwise permitted by law), to or from any domestic financial institution or domestic financial agency if such transmittal of funds involves any such jurisdiction, institution, type of account, or class of transaction.