The Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, has racked up over $800,000 in military flights and even wanted one of the flights for his honeymoon this summer. It comes as no surprise, then, that his department has been caught in a web of illegal activity.
For the past year, a minimum of 12 employees in the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) branch of the Treasury Department have been warning that another departmental branch has been illegally spying on private citizens’ and business’ financial records. Donald Trump appointees Mnuchin and Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker control the department’s intelligence operations.
According to Buzzfeed, some sources claim that the National Security Agency (NSA) and other intelligence agencies also accessed the Treasury’s ill-gotten financial information. However, the NSA denied the accusation, saying:
‘(NSA) Operating outside of its authorities and knowingly violating U.S. persons’ privacy and civil liberties is categorically false.’
But a top Treasury Department official spoke anonymously and bluntly, Buzzfeed reported:
‘This is domestic spying.’
When, the information about the Treasury Department came to light, it issued a very brief statement that said its branches, according to Buzzfeed:
‘Operate in a manner consistent with applicable legal authorities.’
Later, the Treasury added a more forceful response:
‘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. OIA and FinCEN share important information and operate within the bounds of statute.’
US banks and financial institutions must report people’s suspicious financial transactions above $10,000 each day under the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970. That information is stored in a giant database maintained by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Then, bank regulators check that database for terrorist funds, money laundering, and other crimes involving money.
The Treasury also has its own intelligence, the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (OIA). The OIA’s responsibility is to monitor non-domestic crimes. It can place US people under surveillance only under the strictest of guidelines.
FinCEN accused OIA of gathering and keeping domestic information from the banking database. Sources indicated that the OIA analysts have even illegally called banks to ask about private bank accounts and transactions regarding citizens of the US.
The Treasury Department Office of the Inspector General announced it has begun an investigation into the issue.
Check out this video of Senator Elizabeth Warren crushing Steven Mnuchin via YouTube:
Featured Image via Getty Images/Spencer Platt.