Opening Statements of Committee Members

Opening Statement of Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY)

Hearing on the Administration's "National Money Laundering Strategy for 2001"
Wednesday, September 26, 2001, 10:00 a.m - Dirksen 538

I would like to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this very important hearing and I would like to thank our witnesses for testifying today. You should be commended for your interest in this issue, even before the President's actions on Monday made this hearing so timely.

Last week, when Secretary O'Neill was before this committee testifying, we touched on the subject of money laundering. I am looking forward to hearing what my colleagues, the Senator from Michigan and the Senator from Massachusetts have to say in their testimony. I am looking forward to learning more about their bills.

I am also looking forward to hearing the Administration's thoughts from Under Secretary Gurule. I want to follow-up with him on what we touched upon last week. And I want to see what the other distinguished panelists have to say about how these proposals will affect the financial services industry.

This is not the first time we have attempted to tackle this issue. Though no one wants to get in the way of stopping terrorists, drug lords and other criminals, there has been a lot of fear surrounding the issue. If my colleagues got the mail I did in 1999, and I think they did, they know there was a lot of animosity toward some of the "know your customer" proposals.

We have to ensure that we balance security with privacy and make sure that we are focusing efforts in the most effective way to combat criminals to choke off their money supply.

We also have to ensure that banks can actually comply with the laws and regulations that we put upon them, especially small banks. The small bankers in my state already know their customers. If there is a criminal enterprise washing its money through a small bank in Kentucky, my bankers will know it and I have faith that they will report it. But obviously we cannot just rely on the honor system. I guess what I would like to get out of this hearing is whether we need more legislation, or we just need to give our regulators the tools to better enforce current legislation.

Unfortunately, because of the despicable actions of September 11, our lives are going to change. The challenge now is balancing freedom and security. This is a challenge the Senate is going to continue to wrestle with for the foreseeable future. We will have to think hard about the implications of this challenge. Every time we take a vote on these issues, we may be harming one at the expense of the other. There will not be many easy answers.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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