Congressman Keith Ellison

Representing the 5th District of Minnesota

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Ellison and Paulsen Reintroduce Money Remittances Improvement Act To Help Somali Families Send Money Home

Apr 4, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON--Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) today introduced The Money Remittances Improvement Act of 2014 (H.R. 4386) which helps address the difficulties Somali-Americans and others have sending money to loved ones in their countries of origin. The bill simplifies oversight for money services businesses (MSBs) and other nonbank financial institutions, and provides financial institutions that collaborate with MSBs more assurance that the federal and state regulators are coordinating. 

“Somali-Americans want to be able to send resources to their extended families abroad,” said Representative Ellison, “Remittances make up one-third of Somalia’s economy, and give many Somali families the ability to put food on the table.  This bill will provide financial institutions greater certainty when working with MSBs and reduce the regulatory burden for MSBs. We cannot solve all of the problems Somali-Americans face sending money home overnight, but we can simplify the process for both businesses and families.”

Immigrant communities in Minneapolis and across the country have experienced difficulty over the last decade sending money abroad to support their loved ones. The problems became more difficult when many large and medium-sized institutions processing these remittances terminated their services during the famine of 2011.

The Money Remittances Improvement Act (H.R. 4386) enables the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) at the Department of Treasury to rely on state agency examinations of non-bank financial institutions such as money services businesses (MSBs), gaming establishment and jewel merchants. President Obama requested this authority in three of his budget requests

Collaboration between state and federal regulators has been hindered by current law which restricts information sharing. By expanding state and federal coordination, the bill promotes more consistent approaches to examinations. It enables FinCEN to focus federal examinations more efficiently on institutions of greatest risk. It will increase information sharing between FinCEN and counterpart anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing regulators. 

The bill would also reduce a duplicative examination burden on the regulated firms. Under current law, these institutions must comply with rules from state regulators and federal bureaus like the IRS and FinCEN. Consequently, these entities are examined for compliance by both state and federal examiners. Greater information sharing would make compliance easier. Finally, greater oversight will provide greater comfort to financial institutions that these non-bank entities are well-regulated.

The original cosponsors for the bill are Representatives Duffy, Maloney, Hinojosa, Pittenger, Cramer, Peter King and Adam Smith. In the Senate, the bill is led by Senators Kirk and Klobuchar.