October 15, 2001
Guidance on President Bush's Executive Order Freezing Assets that Support Terrorism
To the Chief Executive or Operating Officer of the Licensed Check Casher, Check Seller, or Foreign Transmittal Agency Addressed:
Effective September 24, 2001, President George W. Bush issued an Executive Order (Order) freezing the assets of individuals and organizations that support terrorism. This action represents an important first strike on the financial front in our nation's new war on terrorism. By issuing this Order, the President targets the very heart of terrorism by cutting off its financial resources and limiting the ability of terrorist supporters and organizations to move money across international borders. Licensed check cashers, check sellers, and foreign transmittal agencies (collectively referred to as "money servicers") will play a critical role in this aspect of the war on terrorism, and the cooperation of this industry will be critical in the months to come. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Division of Banks (Division) strongly support the President's efforts to undermine the financial foundation of terrorism and will work to ensure that terrorist organizations do not have the ability to move money through Massachusetts.
A copy of the Order is attached to this letter, and it also may be obtained from the web site of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) http://www.treas.gov/ofac. Licensed money servicers are instructed to call OFAC's hotline at 1-800-540-6322 if there are any "hits" or questions. Licensed money servicers should be alert to the likelihood that OFAC's lists will frequently change as the investigation of the terrorist activities continues, and should periodically visit OFAC's Web site for up-to-date information. Also, please immediately distribute this information to the appropriate personnel in your company.
It is important that all licensed money servicers understand that immediate compliance with the Order is required. Any monies received for money transmission services (including, but not limited to, the sale of money orders) or cashing of checks to or from, any person or entity identified in the Order, or identified in any OFAC list or directive, must be blocked (monies must be accepted and held until further notice from OFAC or any other appropriate government agency). It is also important that all licensees understand that there are severe penalties for violations of the Order under federal law.
In addition, all licensed money servicers are asked to check their records for any relationships or transactions with the named suspects from the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (see attached). Information concerning the alleged hijackers can be found at the Federal Bureau of Investigation's web site at http://www.fbi.gov. The FBI asks anyone who has ever seen or has information about these individuals to immediately contact the nearest FBI office or the toll free hotline number 1-866-483-5137.
The Division expects the full cooperation of all licensed money servicers. The Division will take all actions, and employ all powers available to it, to ensure that all money servicers operating in the Commonwealth are, at all times, in full compliance with the Order. Specifically, the Division will use all enforcement and examination powers available to ensure compliance. The Division will cooperate with all local, state, federal, and international law enforcement agencies, as may be appropriate.
Should your company have any question regarding OFAC, you should contact the OFAC hotline at (202) 622-2490. Companies having questions regarding the Division's enforcement of the Order or any related questions should contact David J. Cotney, Deputy Commissioner for Consumer Compliance at (617) 956-1500, extension 1542.
Very truly yours,
Thomas J. Curry
Commissioner of Banks