Thursday, July 16, 2020


There is a recently-issued outstanding Federal Bureau of Investigation Intelligence Buletin, on the use, by criminal elements, of private placements offered by hedge funds and private equity firms. It includes several examples, offered anonymously without naming & shaming, of how Russian organized crime, Mexican cartels, and lawyers operating through the Cayman Islands, Guernsey and Luxembourg, successfully cleaned hundreds of millions of dollars, circumventing traditional AML compliance programs.

I recommend the white paper, but most compliance officers, who should be reading and anlyzing it, will never see it. The reason is, although the Unclassified bulletin, obviously intended for public use, and using only open-source information, has been designated by the Bureau as Law Enforcement Sensitive, and not for general use. The FBI actually posted a notice on the bulletin, prohibiting its open distribution, and requiring FBI approval to post or publish it in the original format.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, someone did post the bulletin, in its original form, to the Internet. Given the fact that the document contained no information about pending investigations, nor did it anywhere discuss sources and methods, I can find no earthly reason why someone took it upon themself to essentially make it unavailable to the people who really needed to see it, the compliance sector, both at banks and broker-dealers. The document did not fit into the requirements that caused it to be Law Enforcement Sensitive. That is, to repeat, an Unclassified document rating.

Please do not regard these comments as those made by an uninformed individual; I have held a high-level security clearance while serving in the US military in a combat zone, and I spent several years working with, and representing, law enforcement officers. There's nothing in the bulletin that its release, by any stretch of the imagination, can harm law enforcement, undercover work, the administration of justice, or expose any tradecraft or investigative technique that should best be withheld.

Restricting the free flow of critical information to compliance officers, by designating it "Sensitive" serves no purpose, and allows the criminal element to take advantage of the fact that much open-source information in the hands of law enforcement is hidden behind a wall of restrictions which are not justified by making it unavailable through minor restrictions placed upon it, for no legitimate purpose.

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