WASHINGTON – The Bush administration announced new rules Monday that will require certain insurance companies to take steps aimed at catching drug dealers, terrorists and others involved in money laundering.
Insurance companies covered by the new rules would have to train employees to detect money-laundering methods, establish policies and procedures to identify risks and minimize opportunities for abuse, and commission independent audits. They would also be required to file reports on suspicious financial transactions to the federal government.
The new rules "represent key steps .... in protecting the insurance industry from potential abuse by those seeking to launder money or finance terrorism or other illicit activity," said William Fox, director of the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which issued the rules.
The 2001 USA Patriot Act (search) gives the department the powers to take the action.
The provisions are similar to requirements that apply to a wide range of financial institutions as well as some other types of companies that the government wants to make sure aren't vulnerable to money launderers.
Insurance companies covered by the rules include those that sell permanent life insurance, annuity contracts and other insurance products with features of cash value or investment features, the agency said. The rules don't apply to companies that sell group life insurance policies or group annuity contracts.
Insurance companies that are registered to sell securities already are covered by anti-money laundering rules and would not have to set up another program under the rules announced Monday, the agency said.