IRS-CI’s international presence tackles corruption across the globe


Date: December 9, 2021


WASHINGTON — IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) has 11 attaché offices strategically positioned abroad to tackle financial and tax-related crimes and train foreign government partners on investigative techniques. As the world observes 2021 International Anti-Corruption Day Dec. 9, IRS-CI underscores its commitment to investigating bribery, money laundering and fraud schemes that take place across the globe.

"Criminal activity often crosses borders," said IRS-CI Chief Jim Lee. "Thanks in part to our agency's international presence, IRS-CI investigations have resulted in criminal proceedings against individuals who abused positions of power, tried to evade legitimate contracting practices, and laundered funds through illegitimate means."

Cases conducted with international cooperation include:

Antigua (IRS-CI Barbados Post):

In February 2021, the former chief of Antigua's Financial Services Regulatory Commission, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his involvement in a $7 billion Ponzi scheme involving Stanford International Bank. He was responsible for regulatory oversight of the bank's investment portfolio but refused to exercise that authority due to bribes he received, including cash payments of more than $500,000 from the bank's owner.

Ecuador (IRS-CI Colombia Post):

In February 2021, three Ecuadorian nationals were charged for their alleged roles in a bribery and money laundering scheme involving Ecuador's public police pension fund. One of the individuals, an investment advisor, bribed fund officials and laundered millions of dollars through Florida-based businesses and bank accounts, including numerous U.S. investment fund companies where he was an officer or director.

Belize (IRS-CI Mexico Post):

In August 2021, an Ohio resident pleaded guilty to laundering more than $300 million dollars derived from illicit activities through a dark-net bitcoin mixer to conceal the identities of the cryptocurrency's owners from law enforcement. Search warrants at residences owned by the defendant in the U.S. and Belize were executed simultaneously as part of this investigation.

Malaysia (IRS-CI Hong Kong Post):

In August 2021, the U.S. repatriated $452 million in misappropriated 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds to the people of Malaysia, bringing the total of repatriated funds to more than $1.2 billion. Malaysian officials laundered misappropriated 1MDB funds through major financial institutions worldwide, making this case the largest kleptocracy case to date.

Malta (IRS-CI The Netherlands Post):

In October 2021, the CEO of a ship husbanding company living abroad was the subject of an international investigation involving Maltese and U.S. law enforcement agencies that resulted in his indictment on bribery and money laundering charges. He received more than $1 billion in U.S. Navy contracts by allegedly participating in a scheme to bribe U.S. Navy officials, defrauding the U.S. Navy by falsely inflating invoices and laundering the proceeds through shell companies in the United Arab Emirates.

In 2021, IRS-CI's Global Operations and Policy Support Unit has conducted 23 trainings with foreign partners on topics like trade-based money laundering, public corruption, tax evasion, and cybercrimes.

"Hosting trainings for foreign counterparts plays an integral role in cracking down on criminal activity across the globe. U.S. law enforcement agencies are able to share cutting edge techniques and reinforce the importance of international collaboration," said Lee.

The United Nations has observed Dec. 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day since December 2003 in an effort to raise public awareness for anti-corruption.

IRS-CI is the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more. IRS-CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, boasting a nearly 90 percent federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 11 attaché posts abroad.