Friday, October 30, 2020

U.S Watchdog report criticises DEA’s handling of money-laundering operations

-

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) laundered tens of millions of dollars in the course of drug trafficking investigations over the past decade without complying with laws governing such operations, according to a newly released review from the Justice Department’s in-house watchdog.

Justice’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz found that the DEA failed to move millions of dollars in profits from completed operations to the U.S. Treasury and did not report all such undercover operations to Congress as the law requires.

In some cases, the financial transactions handled by the DEA facilitated the purchase of aircraft by drug trafficking organizations, but the DEA apparently showed little interest in determining just how the aircraft were used until auditors asked about the issue.

Horowitz’s review echoed many of the findings that fueled a controversy almost a decade ago over a federal gunrunning investigation known as “Operation Fast and Furious,” that allowed suspected gun traffickers to purchase weapons in order to trace their flow.

- Advertisement -

As many as 2,000 of the weapons crossed the border into Mexico, investigators found, prompting a loud outcry against the Obama administration from Republicans in Congress.

Drug trafficking organizations “are not only involved in drug trafficking, but also participate in violent crimes and have been linked to terrorism,” the new IG report finds. “This elevates the risks that the DEA’s involvement in money laundering activity may inadvertently support particularly egregious criminal activity. Despite these risks, officials in the DEA and in the Department conveyed the idea that allowing money to ‘walk’ is not as inherently risky as letting drugs or guns ‘walk.’”

The report also indicates that DEA sometimes changed the focus or nature of the undercover operations without seeking the appropriate approvals from higher-ups at DOJ. In one instance, a narco-terrorist was added as a new, “atypical” target of a DEA money laundering effort, without high-level approval.

“Because of the sensitivity and additional risks involved in investigating narco-terrorists, we believe that the addition of this target should have immediately alerted [senior officials] that this target did not fall within the initial scope of approved activity,” the review said.

- Advertisement -

The new report spans three fiscal years, from 2015 to 2017, but some of the money-laundering operations date back to the 1990s and the report suggests neglect of the legal requirements for well over a decade.

DEA is supposed to report details of its undercover operations to Congress on an annual basis but has not done so since 2006 or earlier, the watchdog found.

DEA and Justice Department officials agreed with 19 recommendations Horowitz made to address shortcomings found during the audit.

DEA tightened some of its policies on the undercover operation issues in 2018, but didn’t take more significant action until April of this year, well after the inspector general’s team gave Justice and DEA officials the initial findings.

“While DEA acknowledges a need for improvement in the areas noted in the OIG’s report … significant progress has been made in recent years and that effort continues today,” DEA Chief Compliance Officer Mary Schaefer wrote in a response attached to the report.

MUST READ

FirstEnergy fires CEO, other executives over Ohio bribery scandal

FirstEnergy Corp. has fired its CEO amid multiple federal investigations related to an Ohio nuclear bailout law passed year. The Akron-based utility company announced in a...

Ukraine’s court strips critical power from anti-corruption agency

Ukraine's Constitutional Court has stripped the country’s anti-corruption agency of some of its critical powers. The high court’s ruling published on October 28 declared it...

Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak sent back to prison for 17 years in corruption case

Former South Korean president Lee Myung-bak was ordered back to prison on Thursday (Oct 29) as the country's Supreme Court upheld a 17-year jail...

Nigerian court declines to issue international arrest warrant for fugitive ex-Petroleum Minister in corruption case

The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on Wednesday, refused an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for an arrest...

South Korea’s former Vice Justice Minister sentenced to jail for bribery and sexual favors

Former Vice Justice Minister Kim Hak-eui, the figure at the center of one of Korea’s biggest political sex scandals, was placed under pretrial detention...

Subscribe For More

Get our daily notification on the latest financial crimes news around the World

Advertisement
Advertisement

Latest News

This Week

Greek ex-minister Tsochadzopoulos, wife sentenced for money laundering

Former minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos, his wife and his cousin were found guilty of money laundering by a criminal appeals court on Tuesday. Each was served...

Texas AG Ken Paxton fires second whistleblower who accused him of bribery

A second whistleblower has been fired from the Texas attorney general’s office after reporting his boss, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, to law enforcement for...

Macau to sign agreement with World Bank Group over money laundering risk assessment

Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak was granted powers by the Chief executive to sign a Reimbursable Advisory Services Agreement Concerning Risk Assessment of...

Former Columbus mayor Eisenga charged with bank fraud

A former Columbus mayor and businessman who was once at the center of a controversial bill aimed at reducing child support payments for wealthy...
Advertisement

Adblock Detected!

Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors. Please consider supporting us by whitelisting our website.

Enable Notifications    Ok No thanks