U.S. Secret Service, Russia’s Interior Ministry to Fight Financial, Cyber Crimes Together
The Secret Service on Wednesday announced a first-of-its-kind agreement with Russia’s Ministry of Interior to investigate and prevent international financial crimes, including U.S. currency counterfeiting, AFX reports.
The Secret Service also will work with its Russian counterparts on various criminal investigations involving credit card fraud, cyber crime and identity theft cases. The memorandum of understanding was signed Tuesday in Moscow by Secret Service director Mark Sullivan and Deputy Minister of the Interior Andrey Novikov.
The Secret Service has established 24 electronic crimes task forces nationwide that include members from government law enforcement agencies, academia and the private sector. Those task forces will be “put into motion” as part of the new agreement to pursue “anything over the Internet that goes after our financial infrastructure,” Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren said Wednesday. He would not name any of the companies that participate in the task forces.
The area of the world covered by the Russian Federation is “very busy with cyber crimes and hacking activities,” and the formalized agreement will put the two agencies “on common ground on where we’re going and what we’re facing,” Zahren said.
Each country has different legislation and resources, and Zahren said the international agreement, with its focus on financial crimes, was the first of its kind for the Secret Service.
“They’re tearing down the barriers that the criminals use to avoid prosecution,” said James Gaughran, chairman of the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators, a 4,000-member group based in El Dorado Hills, Calif., that includes the Secret Service, FBI and banking industry leaders on its advisory board.
Zahren said the new agreement is not related to the secret program disclosed earlier this year under which officials from the Treasury Department and CIA gained sweeping access to international banking records in an effort to choke off financial support for terrorism.
Treasury Department officials said they used broad subpoenas to collect the financial records from an international system known as the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or Swift.
Under the program, which started shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S., counterterrorism analysts in the U.S. could query Swift’s massive financial data base looking for information on activities by suspected terrorists by plugging in a specific name or names.
Swift is a cooperative based in Belgium that handles financial message traffic from 7,800 financial institutions in more than 200 countries. The service mostly captures information on wire transfers and other methods of moving money in and out of the U.S. The service generally doesn’t detect private, individual transactions in this country, such as withdrawals from an ATM or bank deposits. It is aimed mostly at international transfers.
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