FinCEN Extends Money Laundering Prevention Effort

March 20, 2018

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) renewed for an additional six months an existing Geographic Targeting Order (GTO) that requires U.S. title insurance companies—along with their subsidiaries and agents—to identify the individuals behind companies used to conduct high-end, all-cash real estate transactions in certain major jurisdictions.

The new GTO runs through Sept. 16. The previous GTO expired March 20. This is the third time FinCEN has broadened and/or extended the GTO. In September, FinCEN revised the GTOs to capture a broader range of transactions, including those involving wire transfers. The order also included transactions above $3 million conducted in the city and county of Honolulu, Hawaii. FinCEN previously issued an advisory that provides information on how to detect and report these transactions to FinCEN.

FinCEN originally ordered GTOs in September 2016 requiring certain underwriters to identify and report the true “beneficial owner” behind a legal entity involved in certain high-end deals in Manhattan and Miami-Dade County. A beneficial owner is an individual or entity who directly or indirectly owns 25 percent or more of the equity interest in the legal entity. FinCEN provides the information to law enforcement investigators as part of FinCEN’s database.

The extended GTO includes these areas and price thresholds:

  • Borough of Manhattan, N.Y.; $3 million
  • Borough of Brooklyn, Queens and Bronx, N.Y.; $1.5 million
  • Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Florida; $1 million
  • Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Diego counties, California; $2 million
  • City and County of Honolulu; $3 million
  • Bexar County, Texas (San Antonio); $500,000

A currency transaction report must be filed with FinCEN if these things occur:

  • Location (deal occurs in one of the areas included in the GTOs)
  • All-cash deal (no financing)
  • Purchase price exceeds threshold determined for each covered jurisdiction
  • There’s a corporate buyer
  • Purchase price paid via monetary instrument or wire transfer

The report must include:

  • Information about the identity of the individual primarily responsible for representing the buyer. The title company must obtain a record of the individual’s driver’s license, passport of other similar identification
  • Date of closing of the covered transaction
  • Total amount transferred in the form of a monetary instrument
  • Total purchase price of the covered transaction
  • Address of real property involved

If the purchase involved in the covered transaction is a limited liability company, the underwriter must provide the name, address and taxpayer identification number of all its members. Additionally, covered title companies must retain all records relating to compliance with the order for five years, store the records so they are accessible with a reasonable period of time and make the data available to FinCEN or other law enforcement or regulatory agency, upon request. Under the Bank Secrecy Act, covered businesses must retain all records relating to compliance with the GTOs for at least five years from the last day that the GTOs are effective (including any renewals).

ALTA has developed several tools to help members comply with the order, including:

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or