WASHINGTON - Wire transfer regulations announced this month will change the way law enforcers track money laundering, Treasury Department officials said.
"These regulations mark a basic shift of our attention from cash at the teller's window to concentrating on crime hidden in the details of legitimate commerce," said Ronald Noble, under secretary for enforcement.
The rules, issued jointly by the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board, require banks to keep records on wire transfers of more than $3,000 for five years.
Banks also must include information identifying those customers in payment orders sent to other institutions by wire transfer. That way, the information follows the money.
Criminals use wire transfers to move funds in and out of the United States and to confuse the money trail, said Mr. Noble.
"'Wire transfers are the arteries of the international financial system," he said.
Stanley E. Morris, director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, said the rules will give his agency a new picture of how funds are moved, especially through offshore banks by international money launderers.
"Over time, our computer systems will be able to map the avenues of illicit money movement and the people involved in those transactions," Mr. Morris said.