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Ellison And Paulsen Introduce Money Remittances Improvement Act To Help Somali Families Send Money Home

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) today introduced TheMoney Remittances Improvement Act of 2012 (H.R. 6637), which helps address the difficulties Somali-Americans and others have sending money to loved ones in their countries of origin. The bill simplifies oversight for money services businesses (MSBs) and other nonbank financial institutions, and provides financial institutions that collaborate with MSBs more assurance that the federal and state regulators are coordinating.

"Somali-Americans want to be able to send resources to their extended families abroad," said Representative Ellison, "Remittances make up one-third of Somalia's economy, and give many Somali families the ability to put food on the table. This bill will provide financial institutions greater certainty when working with MSBs and reduce the regulatory burden for MSBs. We cannot solve all of the problems Somali-Americans face sending money home overnight, but we can simplify the process for both businesses and families."

Immigrant communities in Minneapolis and across the country have experienced difficulty over the last decade sending money abroad to support their loved ones. The problems became more difficult when many large and medium-sized institutions processing these remittances terminated their services during the famine of 2011.

Under current law, money services businesses must comply with rules of state regulators and federal bureaus like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) at the U.S. Department of Treasury. The lack of coordination between federal and state governments can give pause to banks who wish to provide financial services to refugees and immigrants from troubled nations.This common-sense legislation promotes broader and more effective use of the dual federal and state oversight structure, and will result in better coordination between Treasury and the states and a more robust examination process.

The bill

Allows FinCEN (and the IRS as its delegate) to rely on examinations conducted by a state supervisory agency of regulated financial institutions, if the laws of the state require the financial institution to comply with FinCEN's regulations.
Increases information sharing between FinCEN and counterpart anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing regulators. This change would enable FinCEN to share information in its capacity as a regulator with foreign regulatory counterparts along the same lines that other federal financial regulators share with their foreign counterparts.
Helps avoid duplicative state and federal oversight efforts with respect to MSBs.

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