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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Senators target prepaid in AML bill

Three U.S. senators sponsored legislation designed to prevent drug cartels, terrorists and other criminals from employing prepaid cards as money laundering tools. Prepaid card accounts can hold "tens of thousands of dollars" – funds that do not have to be declared when crossing U.S. borders, which allows criminals to move large amounts of money undetected, according to the legislators.

The bill drafted by Senators Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Tom Udall, D-N.M. and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., would require prepaid cards that hold funds in excess of $10,000 be declared when cardholders enter or exit the United States. Travelers need to declare cash totaling over $10,000 when entering or leaving the United States, but the policy does not include prepaid cards, the senators said.

The bill would close this loophole and treat prepaid cards like cash, making it mandatory to declare cards that carry funds totaling over $10,000. Klobuchar called the bill "commonsense legislation."

Udall, a member of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, said, "Billions of dollars in drug money is smuggled across our southern border each year only to finance the flow of drugs back into the United States. This bill would plug the loopholes in our financial reporting laws that drug cartels exploit in order to fuel the increasingly dangerous trade of narco-trafficking."

Prepaid cards offer users "complete anonymity – money can be loaded onto the cards by using cash or a PayPal account, and extracted at an ATM across the U.S. or in another country," the senators said. The lawmakers cited a U.S. Department of Treasury report that stated the 9/11 terrorists would have been untraceable if they had used prepaid (stored-value) cards to finance their terrorist plot. end of article

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