S. 569, the “Information Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act,” was introduced by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), and cosponsors Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Charles Grassley (R-IA), during the previous 111th Congress. A House companion bill, H.R. 6098, also was introduced in the 111th Congress by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). Both measures closely parallel legislation that was previously introduced in the 110th Congress by Senator Levin, along with now-President Barack Obama and then-Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN).
After S. 569 was referred to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), of which both Senators Levin and McCaskill are members, the ABA sent a letter to HSGAC Chairman Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) in June 2009 outlining its concerns and objections to the legislation. Although the HSGAC Committee held several hearings on the issues of money laundering and terrorist financing, there was no further action on S. 569 or H.R. 6098 during the 111th Congress. The Department of the Treasury also proposed a substitute bill last year that would not bring lawyers under the Bank Secrecy Act; although a better option, the Treasury bill remains problematic. Therefore, the ABA sent a letter to Chairman Lieberman in January 2010 expressing its concerns and outlining suggestions and improvements for the Treasury bill.
The Treasury Department and key senators on the HSGAC Committee, including Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), are now working on alternatives to S. 569, and Senator Levin’s staff recently indicated his intent to reintroduce a similar measure early in the 112th Congress.