Office of the Spokesperson
The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met today with Uzbekistani Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov in Washington, D.C. Noting the two countries’ active cooperation bilaterally and through the C5+1 regional diplomatic platform, the Secretary thanked Foreign Minister Kamilov for Uzbekistan’s continued partnership. The Secretary emphasized that Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine is a flagrant violation of international law and underscored the urgency of broad support for a rules-based order. The Secretary commended Uzbekistan’s humanitarian support for the people of Ukraine and Afghanistan and reiterated the United States’ intention to never allow terrorists to use Afghanistan as a safehaven. The Secretary encouraged continued progress on Uzbekistan’s reform agenda, including improving the business climate, promoting rule of law, and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. He reaffirmed U.S. support for Uzbekistan’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity.
- San Fernando Valley Man Found Guilty in Terror Plot to Bomb a Rally in Long Beach
August 12, 2021A federal jury convicted a California man today for attempting to bomb a rally in Long Beach for the purpose of causing mass casualties.
- Remarks by Attorney General William P. Barr on his Acceptance of the Christifideles Laici Award at the 2020 National Catholic Prayer Breakfast
September 23, 2020Remarks as Prepared as [Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken Remarks at Bilateral Strategic Dialogue with Kenyan Cabinet Secretary of Foreign Affairs Raychelle Omamo
November 17, 2021
- The Justice Department Announces Statement of Interest Filed in Lawsuit Challenging Philadelphia’s Moratorium that Cancelled the Veterans Day Parade
October 30, 2020The Justice Department announced that a Statement of Interest (SOI) was filed today in a case pending in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania that challenges the City of Philadelphia’s “Event Moratorium” that prohibits issuing permits for gatherings of 150 or more people on public property.
- Cryptocurrency Fraudster Pleads Guilty to Securities Fraud and Money Laundering Charges in Multi-Million Dollar Investment Scheme
March 4, 2021A citizen of Sweden pleaded guilty to securities fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering charges that defrauded more than 3,500 victims of more than $16 million.
- Florida Escort Pleads Guilty to Underreporting Income
December 16, 2020A Fort Lauderdale, Florida, escort pleaded guilty today to filing a false corporate tax return, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Ariana Fajardo Orshan.
- Anti-Money Laundering: Opportunities Exist to Increase Law Enforcement Use of Bank Secrecy Act Reports, and Banks’ Costs to Comply with the Act Varied
In U.S GAO NewsSeptember 22, 2020Many federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies use Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) reports for investigations. A GAO survey of six federal law enforcement agencies found that more than 72 percent of their personnel reported using BSA reports to investigate money laundering or other crimes, such as drug trafficking, fraud, and terrorism, from 2015 through 2018. According to the survey, investigators who used BSA reports reported they most frequently found information useful for identifying new subjects for investigation or expanding ongoing investigations (see figure). Estimated Frequency with Which Criminal Investigators Who Reported Using BSA Reports Almost Always, Frequently, or Occasionally Found Relevant Reports for Various Activities, 2015–2018 Notes: GAO conducted a generalizable survey of 5,257 personnel responsible for investigations, analysis, and prosecutions at the Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Offices of U.S. Attorneys, and U.S. Secret Service. The margin of error for all estimates is 3 percentage points or less at the 95 percent confidence interval. As of December 2018, GAO found that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) granted the majority of federal and state law enforcement agencies and some local agencies direct access to its BSA database, allowing them to conduct searches to find relevant BSA reports. FinCEN data show that these agencies searched the BSA database for about 133,000 cases in 2018—a 31 percent increase from 2014. FinCEN created procedures to allow law enforcement agencies without direct access to request BSA database searches. But, GAO estimated that relatively few local law enforcement agencies requested such searches in 2018, even though many are responsible for investigating financial crimes. GAO found that agencies without direct access may not know about BSA reports or may face other hurdles that limit their use of BSA reports. One of FinCEN’s goals is for law enforcement to use BSA reports to the greatest extent possible. However, FinCEN lacks written policies and procedures for assessing which agencies without direct access could benefit from greater use of BSA reports, reaching out to such agencies, and distributing educational materials about BSA reports. By developing such policies and procedures, FinCEN would help ensure law enforcement agencies are using BSA reports to the greatest extent possible to combat money laundering and other crimes. GAO reviewed a nongeneralizable sample of 11 banks that varied in terms of their total assets and other factors, and estimated that their total direct costs for complying with the BSA ranged from about $14,000 to about $21 million in 2018. Under the BSA, banks are required to establish BSA/anti-money laundering compliance programs, file various reports, and keep certain records of transactions. GAO found that total direct BSA compliance costs generally tended to be proportionally greater for smaller banks than for larger banks. For example, such costs comprised about 2 percent of the operating expenses for each of the three smallest banks in 2018 but less than 1 percent for each of the three largest banks in GAO’s review (see figure). At the same time, costs can differ between similarly sized banks (e.g., large credit union A and B), because of differences in their compliance processes, customer bases, and other factors. In addition, requirements to verify a customer’s identity and report suspicious and other activity generally were the most costly areas—accounting for 29 and 28 percent, respectively, of total compliance costs, on average, for the 11 selected banks. Estimated Total Direct Costs for Complying with the Bank Secrecy Act as a Percentage of Operating Expenses and Estimated Total Direct Compliance Costs for Selected Banks in 2018 Notes: Estimated total direct compliance costs are in parentheses for each bank. Very large banks had $50 billion or more in assets. Small community banks had total of assets of $250 million or less and met the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s community bank definition. Small credit unions had total assets of $50 million or less. Federal banking agencies routinely examine banks for BSA compliance. FinCEN data indicate that the agencies collectively cited about 23 percent of their supervised banks for BSA violations each year in their fiscal year 2015–2018 examinations. A small percentage of these violations involved weaknesses in a bank’s BSA/anti-money laundering compliance program, which could require the agencies by statute to issue a formal enforcement action. Stakeholders had mixed views on industry proposals to increase the BSA’s dollar thresholds for filing currency transaction reports (CTR) and suspicious activity reports (SAR). For example, banks must generally file a CTR when a customer deposits more than $10,000 in cash and a SAR if they identify a suspicious transaction involving $5,000 or more. If both thresholds were doubled, the changes would have resulted in banks filing 65 percent and 21 percent fewer CTRs and SARs, respectively, in 2018, according to FinCEN analysis. Law enforcement agencies told GAO that they generally are concerned that the reduction would provide them with less financial intelligence and, in turn, harm their investigations. In contrast, some industry associations told GAO that they support the changes to help reduce BSA compliance costs for banks. Money laundering and terrorist financing pose threats to national security and the U.S. financial system’s integrity. The BSA requires financial institutions to file suspicious activity and other reports to help law enforcement investigate these and other crimes. FinCEN administers the BSA and maintains BSA reports in an electronic database that can be searched to identify relevant reports. Some banks cite the BSA as one of their most significant compliance costs and question whether BSA costs outweigh its benefits in light of limited public information about law enforcement’s use of BSA reports. GAO was asked to review the BSA’s implementation. This report examines (1) the extent to which law enforcement uses BSA reports and FinCEN facilitates their use, (2) selected banks’ BSA compliance costs, (3) oversight of banks’ BSA compliance, and (4) stakeholder views of proposed changes to the BSA. GAO surveyed personnel at six federal law enforcement agencies, collected data on BSA compliance costs from 11 banks, reviewed FinCEN data on banking agencies’ BSA examinations, and interviewed law enforcement and industry stakeholders on the effects of proposed changes. GAO is recommending that FinCEN develop written policies and procedures to promote greater use of BSA reports by law enforcement agencies without direct database access. FinCEN concurred with GAO’s recommendation. For more information, contact Michael Clements at (202) 512-8678 or email@example.com.
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with New Zealand Foreign Minister Mahuta
January 29, 2021Office of the [Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken Introductory Remarks for Youth Speaker Xiye Bastida
April 22, 2021
- K-12 Education: U.S. Military Families Generally Have the Same Schooling Options as Other Families and Consider Multiple Factors When Selecting Schools
In U.S GAO NewsMarch 8, 2021What GAO Found Traditional public schools were the most commonly available schooling option for military families near military installations, similar to schools available to U.S. families in general, according to GAO’s analysis of Department of Education 2018-19 data. Over 90 percent of installations had at least one public schooling option nearby—such as a charter or magnet school—in addition to traditional public schools (see figure). Similar to U.S. schools in general, rural installations generally had fewer schooling options compared to their more highly populated urban counterparts. In addition, about one-half of the military installations GAO analyzed are in states that offer private school choice programs that provide eligible students with funding toward a non-public education. At least two of these states have private school choice programs specifically for military families. Public School Options within Average Commuting Distance of Military Installations, School Year 2018-19 Note: According to GAO’s analysis of the Department of Transportation’s 2017 National Household Travel Survey, the average commuting distance for rural and urban areas is 20 miles and 16 miles, respectively. For the purposes of this report, the term “military installations” refers to the 890 DOD installations and Coast Guard units included in GAO’s analysis. Military families in GAO’s review commonly reported considering housing options and school features when choosing schools for their children; however, they weighed these factors differently to meet their families’ specific needs. For example, one reason parents said that they accepted a longer commute was to live in their preferred school district, while other parents said that they prioritized a shorter commute and increased family time over access to specific schools. Military families also reported considering academics, perceived safety, elective courses, and extracurricular activities. To inform their schooling decisions, most parents said that they rely heavily on their personal networks and social media. Why GAO Did This Study Approximately 650,000 military dependent children in the U.S. face various challenges that may affect their schooling, according to DOD. For example, these children transfer schools up to nine times, on average, before high school graduation. Military families frequently cite education issues for their children as a drawback to military service, according to DOD. GAO was asked to examine the schooling options available to school-age dependents of active-duty servicemembers. This report describes (1) available schooling options for school-age military dependent children in the U.S.; and (2) military families’ views on factors they consider and resources they use when making schooling decisions. GAO analyzed data on federal education, military installation locations, and commuting patterns to examine schooling options near military installations. GAO also conducted six discussion groups with a total of 40 parents of school-age military dependent children; and interviewed officials at nine military installations that were selected to reflect a range of factors such as availability of different types of schooling options, rural or urban designation, and geographic region. In addition, GAO reviewed relevant federal laws and guidance, and interviewed officials from DOD, the Coast Guard, and representatives of national advocacy groups for military children. For more information, contact Jacqueline M. Nowicki at (617) 788-0580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Justice Department Settles with Frozen Food Company to Resolve Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims
January 10, 2022The Department of Justice today announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with Buddy’s Kitchen Inc., a Minnesota-based company that produces and distributes frozen foods.
- Former Union Official Sentenced for Violent Extortion
May 3, 2021An Indiana man and former business agent of Iron Workers Local 395 was sentenced today to more than four years in prison for conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act extortion.
- Dominica’s Independence Day
November 3, 2021
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken with Judy Woodruff of PBS NewsHour
March 4, 2021
- Department Press Briefing – August 27, 2021
August 29, 2021Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
- North Carolina Man Pleads Guilty to Violating Fair Housing Act and Threatening a Family Because of Their Race
August 6, 2020The Justice Department announced today that Douglas Matthew Gurkins, 34, pleaded guilty today in federal court in the Eastern District of North Carolina to one count of criminal interference with the Fair Housing Act, for using threats of force against an African American family because of the family members’ race and because they were renting a dwelling.
- Samoa Independence Day
May 28, 2021
- County Medical Center and County Agree to Pay $11.4 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations Relating to Medically Unnecessary Inpatient Admissions
August 6, 2021San Mateo County Medical Center and San Mateo County (collectively SMMC), located in California, have agreed to pay approximately $11.4 million to resolve alleged violations of the False Claims Act for submitting or causing the submission of claims to Medicare for non-covered inpatient admissions.
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken with George Stephanopoulos of ABC’s Good Morning America
February 16, 2022
- Nigeria National Day
October 1, 2021