Treasury watchdog investigating surveillance allegations
The Treasury Department’s inspector general said Friday that it is probing allegations that the department’s intelligence division has been illegally looking at private financial records of U.S. citizens.
Employees of another Treasury branch, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, have reportedly warned federal officials and Congress that private banking and financial information belonging to U.S. citizens has been searched and stored illegally, BuzzFeed reported.
BuzzFeed cited an unnamed Treasury official as calling the activity on the part of the department’s intelligence branch “domestic spying.”
Counsel to the Treasury’s inspector general told The Associated Press, “The issues referred to in the article are currently being reviewed as part of a Treasury OIG audit.”
Treasury Department officials vehemently denied the allegations.
“The BuzzFeed story is flat out wrong. An unsourced suggestion that an office within Treasury is engaged in illegal spying on Americans is unfounded and completely off-base,” the department said in a statement.
It added that Treasury’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis and the Treasury Financial Crimes and Enforcement Network “share important information and operate within the bounds of statute and other relevant legal authorities. … We have a responsibility to bring to bear all the tools available to us to protect the American people.”
BuzzFeed’s report went on to say that the breach of U.S. citizens’ and residents’ financial data could have extended to the National Security Agency, as well as other intelligence agencies.
BuzzFeed reported that sources said the alleged snooping had been going on under the Obama administration, adding that under the Trump administration, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker currently control how the department goes about intelligence operations.
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