Wednesday, September 23, 2020

FBI director expects to have his ‘hands full’ with fiscal oversight board

By on August 24, 2016

SAN JUAN – Douglas A. Leff, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Juan division, said he would be collaborating with the yet to be established Financial Oversight & Management Board, even though he has not yet been notified the role the agency is to have.

“We haven’t been told, but yeah…. I see ourselves collaborating, even if what they do we may not be allowed to share in. But I see, when they come across a potential crime they would tell us what the facts are so we can investigate. But I have no idea if that is how it will come to pass,” Leff said.  

Douglas A. Leff, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Juan division

Douglas A. Leff, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Juan division

The official declined to mention whether there are ongoing investigations about any possible wrongdoing in the issuance of government bonds. Nevertheless, Leff informed he is communicating with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) to develop a close partnership to investigate possible securities fraud and other securities-related crimes.

Communications between the San Juan FBI office and the SEC have been about what Leff considered “certain aspects of things we’ve seen in Puerto Rico that we think violate the securities fraud laws.

“We have been partnering with the SEC. I don’t know if there is a history of it in Puerto Rico, but in New York [the SEC] is a very close partner with us and the U.S. Attorney…. We will look to increase that partnership and the fruits of it here. SEC has been interested in doing it and so are we and the U.S. attorney,” Leff said.

Even though Leff declined to be specific, he did mention that the public corruption cases the San Juan office is currently investigating involve elected officials taking bribes or receiving kickbacks in exchange for political favors.

Regarding the possibility these investigations stem from other ones, Leff said his agency always follows as many leads as can be identified.

“Generally speaking, when we look into one case we follow the saying ‘where there is smoke, there’s fire’ and we find other things or situations that need to be examined. It’s not always corruption, it could be gross waste and mismanagement, in which case it’s the comptroller’s ballgame. But often, we do find something where either federal funds have been used improperly or someone taking federal funds and using them for something they were not allowed to use them…to benefit themselves…,” Leff said.

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