WASHINGTON -- The Treasury Department, General Accounting Office, and even Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez seem to be moving toward agreement that reporting requirements under the Bank Secrecy Act can be reduced.

Henry Wray, an official of the GAO, Congress' auditing arm, is expected to tell the House Banking Committee today that banks should not have to file currency transaction reports on well-established customers.

Diminishing Returns

Bankers have long complained that the cost of the reports, required on most cash transactions exceeding $10,000, outweighs their crime-fighting benefits.

Mr. Wray, the GAO's director of justice issues, will be testifying on the second day of hearings by House Banking Committee on money laundering.

Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service officials defended currency transaction reports at Tuesday's hearing. They said the filings often provide good investigative leads.

Nonetheless, over the next year Treasury will conduct a study to examine how some of the Bank Secrecy Act's requirements might be simplified or eliminated, Assistant Treasury Secretary Ronald K. Noble said.

War on Red Tape

Rep. Gonzalez, Texas Democrat and chairman of the banking committee, recently said the panel would examine ways "to reduce the needless costs and paperwork" such as currency transaction reports, known as CTRs. It will await Treasury's report before formulating recommendations, a committee spokeswoman said.

One change being studied is allowing banks to keep their own CTR records instead of filing them with the IRS.

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