The Securities and Exchange Commission has opened a website originally created for internal purposes at the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations to fight anti-money laundering, for compliance officers at mutual funds.

The AML Source Tool for Mutual Funds website gives fund executives a one-stop overview on how to combat anti-money laundering.

The SEC decided to open up the website to mutual fund executives after a similar website for broker/dealers, made available to the public last year, has proven such a success, said Lori Richards, director of the inspections office.

"This source tool puts all mutual fund AML requirements in one easy-to-reference location, making it easy for mutual funds to understand their AML compliance obligations in their ongoing efforts to prevent money laundering," Richards said.

Mutual funds and broker/dealers have been required to file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) since 2001, under the USA PATRIOT Act, created in response to the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The Act was an extension of 1970's Bank Secrecy Act, which established a framework for AML obligations, overseen by the Department of the Treasury.

Among other things, the Act requires funds to have formal AML compliance programs in place, along with customer identification programs. Investors cannot open a new account, for instance, without a bona fide street address. Post office box numbers no longer are acceptable. Funds must diligently monitor, detect and report suspicious activity, and perform due diligence on foreign correspondent accounts as well as private banking accounts.

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