The IRS agent who squatted in her own house

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Financial CRIMES NOW POSE “THE Biggest THREAT”
mortgage fraud
Image by Renegade98
FBI Utilizes Triage to Shift From Terror to Madoff, try Subprime Probes

By Patricia Hurtado

Dec. 22 (Bloomberg) — The FBI has engaged in “triage, about it ” taking agents off terror and other crimes to respond to a cascade of financial frauds such as the alleged Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, the head of the bureau’s New York criminal division mentioned.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was forced to reallocate its manpower in New York to deal with current frauds involving subprime mortgages, auction-rate securities and Madoff, who prosecutors mentioned confessed this month to bilking investors out of billion, FBI official David Cardona mentioned in an interview.

“We have to function these circumstances which we believe pose the greatest threat,” he mentioned. “In this situation, it is a threat to the monetary technique and Wall Street.”

Unique Agent Rachel Rojas, who once worked on tracing terrorist financing and al-Qaeda, now oversees 15 agents investigating mortgage fraud, said Cardona, a career agent with 23 years at the bureau. He declined to say how many other agents he has reassigned from anti-terror work to economic crimes.

Rojas heads a single of two such mortgage-fraud squads that work with federal prosecutors in Brooklyn and Manhattan and other federal agencies, Cardona mentioned. The U.S. Justice Division has created a lot more than 40 mortgage-fraud job forces about the nation this year.

Some of the FBI’s anti-terror knowledge has come in handy in investigating monetary crime, Cardona said. Agents who were hunting at bank-supplied “suspicious activity reports” or SARS to track financing of terrorism are now doing so to spot mortgage or other economic fraud, he said.

Cardona’s workplace nevertheless handles multimillion dollar crimes, whilst referring smaller situations to state prosecutors or New York Lawyer Common Andrew Cuomo, Cardona stated.

Big Case Skipped

Some big cases are left to others. The FBI didn’t get involved in the investigation of Marc Dreier, a New York lawyer charged Dec. 8 with defrauding hedge funds out of a lot more than million. The Dreier case is becoming handled by investigators in the U.S. Attorney’s Workplace in Manhattan.

“We do not chase every case,” he mentioned. “We do not have the resources.”

To save agents time, the New York workplace has established Net sites and telephone hotlines for anonymous e-mail complaints and guidelines about mortgage fraud and the Madoff situation, Cardona stated.

Considering that he arrived from Miami in May possibly, 2007, Cardona, 52, has overseen 400 agents who manage criminal situations. The New York workplace covers New York City, Long Island, Westchester and the five counties north of New York City. In addition to the major office, positioned just north of Wall Street, Cardona oversees 5 smaller satellite bureaus in Queens, White Plains, Extended Island, John F. Kennedy International Airport and Goshen, New York.

Working With Others

Beneath Cardona, the FBI’s New York workplace has also forged new relationships with regulators and other federal agencies as a indicates of stretching manpower, he mentioned. His agents are operating with the Federal Deposit Insurance coverage Corporation and the Federal Housing Administration on mortgage fraud, he stated.

“There is tons of stuff out there,” he mentioned. “But we do not have the resources to chase every collapsed hedge fund or collapsed monetary institution.”

According to FBI statistics, the bureau’s price range in fiscal year 2008 was about .eight billion. There is no allocation for higher funding in the 2009 price range, he said.

“Realistically, in the era of limited resources, the FBI in New York will strive to use the necessary resources to address the criminal activities we really feel are the most critical,” he mentioned.

Greater Standard

Criminal conduct includes a greater normal of proof to secure a conviction than the civil allegations the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission files, so it’s harder for the FBI to make instances, Cardona mentioned. He cites the bank failure at Washington Mutual — the largest in U.S. background — as an instance of obstacles the FBI faces in proving criminal wrongdoing.

“You can scratch your head and say, ‘Was there criminality that occurred there?’” he stated. “How can that collapse? Was that mismanagement? My standard is higher than that. I have to show criminal intent.”

The fall in the stock marketplace this year didn’t develop the current surge in financial crimes, Cardona said.

“Mortgage fraud was perpetrated in very good times, but no a single saw it,” Cardona said. “In negative times, as we are in now, you see the manifestation of the crime dilemma. It was there, but like the tide going out, you just didn’t see until the margin calls started coming in.”

Madoff, Bear Stearns

The workload of Cardona’s agents this week ran the gamut from an indictment in gangland slayings to working with the SEC to Bernard Madoff’s alleged billion Ponzi scheme. Cardona declined to go over any details about Madoff, who is under residence arrest as the FBI investigates his confession.

Beneath Cardona, the office had some current high-profile white-collar prosecutions this year: in June the FBI teamed up with the SEC and prosecutors in the workplace of Brooklyn U.S. Lawyer Benton Campbell to bring indictments against two former Bear Stearns Cos. hedge fund managers in the 1st prosecution stemming from a U.S. government probe of last year’s mortgage industry collapse.

In September, the very same group brought indictments in a second situation, against two former Credit Suisse traders accused of fraudulently selling corporate clientele more than billion of auction-rate securities linked to subprime mortgages. The defendants in each situations have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to be tried next year.

While counter-terrorism remains a major priority for the workplace because the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Cardona mentioned he’s also cognizant of the threat white-collar fraud poses to the U.S. economy.

“In New York, No. 1, that is terror but also my region of responsibility is any crime that undermines the confidence in our financial-services industry.” He said. “To me that is an additional leading threat.”

To get in touch with the reporter on this story: Patricia Hurtado in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn at pathurtado@bloomberg.net.

Last Updated: December 22, 2008 00:01 EST

www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601170&amprefer=residence&a…

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