money laundering authority faces hiring probe
Treasury Department has frozen all recruitment by its anti money laundering arm and forced the agency to rescind 11 job offers, after an investigation found it violated the federal employment code during an aggressive hiring push, accordin Swarovski g to several government officials.
The Office of Personnel Management, a federal agency that governs labour practices in the government, determined that the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known as FinCEN, illegally screened candidates in a quest to hire only lawyers for certain jobs, the officials said. It has recommended further investigations by two other federal agencies into FinCEN’s practices, they added.
Rules for hiring at government agencies make it illegal to screen candidates for qualifications that aren’t stipulated in the job description, and the jobs FinCEN had posted weren’t designated as being only for lawyers, the officials said.
Some senior Treasury officials knew about FinCEN’s practice but it was not halted until OPM identified the problem, two of the sources said.
A Treasury spokeswoman said that FinCEN is “committed to complying with all relevant federal rules and regulations regarding federal hiring.”
OPM did not return calls and emails seeking comment.
The hiring freeze at FinCEN and further investigations into its practices could deal at least a short term setback to its push to aggressively crack down on money laundering. anti money laundering laws, into a powerful organisation capable of standing up to big banks and other financial firms where violations are discovered. accounts. That probe resulted in the bank agreeing to $1.9 billion in penalties and forfeitures for failing to alert regulators to suspicions about convicted Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff.
FinCEN can issue civil penalties but lacks prosecutorial power.
The positions at FinCEN where the illegal hiring took place were in the agency’s recently revamped enforcement division, according to the officials. Department of Justice, where Shasky served as the chief of the DOJ’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section before moving to FinCEN in September 2012.
It is unclear whether any of the people who had job offers revoked suffered damage to their careers as a result.
At an ACAMS conference in March, Shasky talked about her hiring strategy.
“We needed people that understood, ‘How do you do enforcement? How do you issue a summons? How do you do a deposition? How do you negotiate a settlement? How do you draft the charging documents?’ Just kind of the nuts and bolts of doing enforcement,” she said.
FinCEN ranked 296 of 300 in the 2013 list of the best places to work in the federal government, according to the non profit Partnership for Public Service, based on data collected by OPM in an employee survey. The agency scored low on categories such as effective leadership, teamwork and employee skills mission match.
Debra D’Agostino, a founding partner of the Federal Practice Group, which specializes in labour laws for government employees, said hiring managers at government agencies frequently have more specific requirements in mind than they are permitted to display in some job postings. Most find a way around the problem without leaving a paper trail, she said.
“It happens all the time,” D’Agostino said. “ Swarovski In this case it looks like they just took the extraordinary step of tinkering with things when there was no reason to do that and now they have to suffer the consequences.”
Linda Rix, who is co chief executive of the consulting firm Avue and who worked early in her career in OPM’s audits department, said the rules need to be revamped.
“They’re a bunch of Byzantine rules that the government has that a normal layperson looking at this says, ‘I can see why they would want someone with this skill,’ but that is contrary to how the government operates,” she said.
But the people at FinCEN in Swarovski charge of hiring devised Swarovski a system to weed out candidates who weren’t lawyers by asking whether they had “complex litigation experience,” something only a lawyer could claim to have, according to one of the sources.
It could not be determined why FinCEN could not get permission to classify the jobs as open only to lawyers.
OPM discovered the practice during a routine audit. As a result, the job offers for the 11 lawyers were rescinded earlier this year, the officials said.