The number of currency transaction reports fell 12% in 2009, to 13.7 million, in large part because of reporting changes made by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, according to a report from the agency expected to be released today.

After complaints from bankers about the sheer number of required Bank Secrecy Act filings, Fincen made some changes in January 2008 to allow more individuals and well-known businesses to be exempted from CTR requirements, which are necessary on most cash transactions above $10,000.

The changes eliminated a requirement that exemptions be renewed every two years and said certain firms did not need such a form at all.

As a result, the number of such exemption filings fell 44% in 2009, to an all-time low of 29,000. Fincen said it was a key reason for the drop in the overall number of CTR filings.

"This study, issued 18 months after the rule went into effect, offers substantial evidence that Fincen's efforts to address CTR filing issues have been effective and the result being financial institutions continue to provide even more useful and targeted information to assist law enforcement," Fincen Director James Freis said in a press release.

CTRs account for nearly 90% of all annual BSA filings by banks, Fincen said. The report said CTR filings fell 13.6% at the smallest institutions and 20% at the largest ones.

"As a result, it appears likely that fewer CTR filings are being made on transactions of limited or no use to law enforcement, while the higher-value CTRs that remain are becoming easier to identify," the report said.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.