NU Online News Service, April 18, 10:54 a.m. — Washington

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Mike Oxley, R-Findlay, Ohio, is urging the Treasury Department to avoid imposing unreasonable anti-money laundering burdens on the insurance industry.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, Oxley says Congress specifically opposed a “one size fits all” approach when enacting the USA Patriot Act in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

The act requires financial institutions to establish anti-money laundering programs. The Treasury Department is currently developing regulations to implement the act, including the requirements that will be imposed on the insurance industry.

Oxley says there is little evidence of money laundering being conducted through insurance products.

“It would be particularly difficult to launder money through property-casualty products or life products without cash value,” he writes in his letter.

“The commensurate requirements placed on underwriters and agents of these products should be correspondingly less,” Oxley writes.

Indeed, he says, where an agent, broker or company does not accept cash or cash equivalents in unusually large amounts, imposing the full requirements of the Patriot Act would be an unnecessary burden.

It is important, Oxley says, that Treasury consult and coordinate with state insurance commissioners and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo.

“A two-way dialogue between the insurance regulators and the Treasury Department would help educate both sides to best determine the appropriate level of required regulation,” Oxley says.

Oxley expressed similar views about the Patriot Act in a speech delivered at a recent Independent Insurance Agents of America legislative conference.