Senate Approves Defense Bill That Includes Critical BSA/AML Changes

By a bipartisan vote of 84 to 13, the Senate this afternoon passed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2021, a bill that includes several critical improvements to anti-money laundering rules. Among other things, the bill directs the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to establish and maintain a national registry of beneficial ownership information that banks may in turn rely on when complying with customer due diligence requirements.

In a statement just after the bill was passed, ABA President and CEO Rob Nichols applauded the bipartisan vote. “We particularly appreciate that the NDAA includes critically important provisions that will further strengthen our national security by developing a beneficial ownership registry to help stop the abuse of anonymous shell companies and make it harder for criminals, terrorists and other bad actors to access our financial system,” Nichols said. “The bill also includes measures that will enhance cooperation between banks and law enforcement, creating a more transparent and efficient anti-money laundering regime. We urge that this legislation become law as quickly as possible.”

The bill now goes to the president for signature. Although President Trump has threatened to veto the NDAA over other provisions, the House and Senate vote margins were large enough to overcome a veto.