Will Treasury Hire the Guy Who Allowed JP Morgan Help Iran Launder Money?

Two weeks ago, Treasury fired the guy in charge of FinCEN (the part of Treasury that enforces and tracks Suspicious Activities Reports), Jim Freis, reportedly (pay wall) because he wanted to focus on law enforcement and financial crimes, rather than a more focused counterterrorism focus.

The issue wasn’t Fincen’s speed or personality conflicts, but more about control. To put it simply, Treasury wants more oversight of Fincen’s activities, including additional focus on international areas such as terrorist financing. “Fincen ought to be better integrated and tethered to the policy issues that relate to money laundering, terrorist financing and economic sanctions on behalf of the U.S. government. It’s not as well integrated as it should be,” said a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Freis saw Fincen’s role as more independent, and was primarily concerned with the agency’s role in supporting law enforcement agencies as well as tackling other financial crimes such as mortgage fraud.

And if that isn’t enough to make you wonder about this Administration’s commitment to making banks obey the law, consider that the apparent leading candidate to replace Freis is JP Morgan’s anti-money laundering VP, William Langford.

In December 2009, when JPMC extended a $2.9 million loan to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping lines, in violation of WMD sanctions, Langford was the VP at JPMC in charge of money laundering. He was there, too, when JPMC decided not to self-disclose the loan until they had almost been repaid.

In the months before March 2011, when JPMC repeatedly claimed it didn’t have 20 documents relating to a wire transfer with Khartoum? Langford was at JPMC for that too.

The 9 wire transfers since April 2006 in violation of a range of sanctions? He was there for most of those.

And he was probably at JPM–though just barely–when JPMC transferred $20M in gold bullion–a ton of gold!–for an Iranian bank?

Now, presumably all this money laundering and sanctions violating happened in remote corners of JPMC, far from Langford’s views (though you would think his office would be involved in the non-responsive answers about the Khartoum documents and decisions about when and whether to self-disclose some of these violations). There is no reason to believe Langford facilitated any of this money laundering and sanctions violating.

Still, even aside from the whole revolving door problem, from the centrality of JPMC in both the MF Global and JPMC’s won Fail Whale investigations, it seems like Treasury might hire someone who couldn’t keep one bank in line, much less all of them.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

8 replies
  1. Tom in AZ says:

    @Arbusto:

    For those continuing the scams, those days were ‘a good start.’

    Now it is acceleration into the collapse.

  2. allan says:

    From one of your links, note the revolving door:

    “William Langford, who was a regulatory policy official at the department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) before accepting an anti-money laundering post with JPMorgan in 2006…”

    Can it be long before Neel Kashkari is brought back from exile at PIMCO to help runTreasury?

  3. jo6pac says:

    This another great move by the wh just look at how the govt works against the people and only for the elite. It looks a win win for all the money changer/launders in the world. I just love it when some Amerikan official points out how bad corruption is in another nation. I don’t know what the other nation is other than they’re in a distant 2 place to the Amerikan homeland.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Tim Geithner’s Treasury keep, let alone promote, empower or hire, a professional committed to law enforcement, to fighting bank fraud and financial crimes at non-financial institutions? That would be like Mr. Obama hiring Dawn Johnsen as Attorney General, Bill Black as SEC chief, or Marcy Wheeler as chief White House spokesperson.

    Mr. Obama is as committed to playing the “terrorist” card as the equally cynical Dick Cheney, in order to further empower the executive at the expense of the governed, and to assure corporations and beltway players that “good” government means ignoring, excusing and immunizing crimes committed by the powerful.

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