Sunday, May 4, 2014


Last week's news about the fact that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, was forced to withdraw eleven employment invitations, because it essentially discriminated in favor of lawyers, indicates that the agency believes that attorneys are especially suited for the tasks it needs accomplished, especially in its revamped and expanded Enforcement division. Leaving aside for the moment the fact that the agency may have violated Federal hiring laws, its reliance on lawyers exclusively is misplaced, in my experience, even when it limits applicants to those with "complex litigation experience." There are others far more able, in my opinion, and I say this as one who graduated from law school, and practiced law initially.

In the thirty-five years that I have been involved in financial crime, the first decade as a career criminal, and the last twenty-five as a consultant trying to interdict financial crime, in real-time, I have come to recognize that the most qualified people that FinCEN can hire* are not twenty-something lawyers from the Department of Justice. You should, in my humble opinion, seek out retired investigators and detectives from the law enforcement sector, individuals in their forties and fifties, with 20-25 years of white collar crime investigations under their belts; They can get results.

Retired law enforcement is far more rounded than government lawyers who have never been in private practice, never represented financial institutions, never assembled white-collar cases from scratch, and do not have the inquisitive nature that can only come from years of working all sorts of white-collar cases, from the mundane to the most complex, and who understands the white-collar criminal.

I understand the mind-set for the present FinCEN Director, who obviously wants the agency to take strong action, and move in a direction supplemental to its traditional functions, but if the agency really wants to make cases against experienced money launderers, it needs experienced investigators to make those cases, and then turn them over to DOJ for a successful prosecution. Being a lawyer, even an experienced government prosecutor, does not necessarily qualify that individual to analyze the evidence, conduct an effective investigation, and make a case that will result in a guilty verdict. Use the best qualified people, please, meaning those with two decades plus of white-collar experience in the street.
* I would suggest that the agency hire a number of former money launderers, who are the most qualified for the job, but they would never be issued the Top Secret/SCI security clearance that the positions require, and I doubt that there would be any waivers issued. Some of us held such clearances when we were in the system, but they have long since lapsed.

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