The United States financial system has long been a desired destination of illicit funds linked to senior foreign political figures and kleptocracy, a state of unrestrained political corruption. In the 1970s, the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission launched investigations into political corruption and started legislative efforts to thwart such acts in the United States. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act passed in 1977 to include an anti-bribery provision to prevent unscrupulous foreign business dealings.
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has issued specific advisories of known corruption, most recently addressing widespread human rights abuses enabled by corrupt senior foreign political figures and their financial facilitators with respect to Nicaragua, South Sudan, and Venezuela. With the release of the FinCEN Priorities (the Priorities), corruption is now top and center as a growing concern for FinCrime professionals. This priority, along with others, should be addressed in AML programs as an issue linked to illicit funds flowing through the U.S. financial system. Although not new, corruption continues to be a serious global threat, and it clearly has become as much of a threat within our homeland.