DALLAS -- U.S. Treasury officials on Thursday said they plan to open their computerized records of currency transactions filed by banks to Texas law enforcement officers.
The unprecedented move is aimed at cracking down on money laundering, according to officials speaking at a House Banking Committee hearing in San Antonio.
Currently, local police must file time-consuming requests for information with the Internal Revenue Service, impeding their ability to efficiently track the flow of cash through the banking system.
Assistant Treasury Secretary Ronald K. Noble said his agency would give Texas law officers the new level of access beginning Sept. 1, according to remarks prepared for presentation.
Program Could Spread
Called Project Gateway, the pilot program could eventually be extended to police in all 50 states, he said. Under the experimental program, Texas police would have access to records of about 50 million transactions that banks must file with the IRS whenever $10,000 or more in cash is deposited.
"Quick and complete access to this data base will prove a boon to state and local law enforcement officials seeking a paper trail to lead them to the money launderers," said House Banking Committee chairman Henry B. Gonzalez, a Democrat from San Antonio.
The initiative does not address requests from bankers for relief from the cash-reporting paperwork required by the federal Bank Secrecy Act. Banks file about 9 million currency-transaction reports annually, but say most concern routine transactions.
Mr. Gonzalez said in late May he would consider regulatory relief for banks as part of any new anti-money-laundering legislation. No specific proposal has yet been made public.