Secretary Antony J. Blinken At the 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report Launch Ceremony

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Dr. Kari Johnstone, Acting DirectorOffice to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

Washington, D.C.

Ben Franklin Room

MS JOHNSTONE: Good afternoon, and welcome. My name is Kari Johnstone. I am the acting director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Thank you all for joining us virtually to mark the release of the 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report, or the TIP Report. I am grateful to be here with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

A quick word about our program today: First, Secretary Blinken will offer remarks on this year’s report. We will then honor this year’s eight wonderful TIP Report Heroes, who have dedicated their lives to combat human trafficking, and we will hear briefly from each of them in a pre-recorded video. I will offer brief closing remarks and then we hope you will click over to state.gov to access the report online.

I would like to start by thanking our colleagues across the State Department, including our overseas embassies, for the strong collaboration and time spent to produce an accurate and comprehensive report. And I want to give a second thank you – a special thank you and kudos to the staff of the Trafficking in Persons Office for your dedication and commitment. Your long hours and hard work producing this report make a difference. And finally, thank you to our colleagues across the U.S. Government as well as our vital partners in NGOs and international organizations, those with lived experience of human trafficking, and other experts who contributed to the TIP Report and work to facilitate progress in addressing human trafficking year-round.

And it is now such an honor to join Secretary Blinken here today. Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for elevating the issue of human trafficking and for hosting today’s event. Under your leadership, we look forward to advancing our efforts to combat human trafficking.

Ladies and gentlemen, Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

(Applause.)

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you, Kari. Thank you very much for that introduction, but especially thank you for the terrific work leading the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons here at State. You and your team – and I know some of the team members are here with us today – did exceptional work producing this year’s report under the difficult circumstances of COVID-19.

Thanks to everyone else who’s here for joining us for what is a very important occasion. And a special thank you to the Heroes that we’re celebrating today, women and men around the world who have dedicated their careers to stopping human trafficking. They’re advocates, public servants, leaders of NGOs, and they help stop trafficking in all kinds of ways by supporting victims, helping to bring traffickers to justice, creating national action plans, addressing the root causes of trafficking.

In many ways, the fight against trafficking is fought on the local level, one community at a time. And we celebrate the brave people leading the fight, often at great risk to themselves. Trafficking in persons is an appalling crime. It’s a global crisis; it’s an enormous source of human suffering. By its nature, it’s often hidden from view. Exact figures are sometimes hard to determine. The estimate we often cite is that nearly 25 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking. Many are compelled into commercial sex work. Many are forced to work in factories or fields, or to join armed groups. Millions of trafficking victims are children.

This crime is an affront to human rights; it’s an affront to human dignity. We fight it, you fight it, because it’s the right thing to do. It’s also in our interest to stop trafficking. We know it’s destabilizing to societies and to economies. So we must do everything we can as a country, but also as a global community, to stop trafficking wherever it occurs.

The State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report is indeed the world’s most comprehensive resource of the anti-trafficking efforts being undertaken by governments around the globe. It reflects the United States longstanding commitment and bipartisan commitment to this issue. We see it from administration to administration, we see it in Congress, and it’s something that we should take pride in. It’s the product of a great deal of work by our team here in Washington, our embassies around the world, and by NGOs, by journalists, academics, and survivors who help us to identify and document trends in human trafficking so that governments worldwide can more effectively combat it.

Part of this report is our country data. This year, we assessed 188 countries, including the United States. Some made encouraging progress; some slid backward. It’s important to remember that progress against trafficking is rarely linear. Traffickers are constantly adapting their methods, and every country, including the United States, must keep adapting our own strategies to stay ahead of them. We’ve got to identify and acknowledge our own shortcomings and be willing to course correct when needed. The TIP Report can help us do that by laying out the significant steps the United States and other countries must take to fight this crime and protect victims.

In addition to the country data, this year’s report explores a few topics in depth. The first is the impact of COVID-19. In many places, as governments diverted resources to try to control the pandemic and address its secondary impacts, human traffickers seized the opportunity to grow their operations. People who were pushed into dire economic circumstances by the pandemic became more vulnerable to exploitation. And as more people spent hours online for school and work, traffickers used the internet to groom and recruit potential victims.

So the pandemic has had a real impact on this fight. It’s another reason why it’s so important to stop the pandemic as quickly as we can and help communities around the world. The longer it takes, the more people will become vulnerable to trafficking.

We applaud those governments that found ways to step up their work against trafficking even during COVID. For example, in Paraguay, as thousands of citizens abroad sought to return home, the government established temporary quarantine facilities at the border. They asked everyone screening questions, and through those questions they were able to identify nearly 300 victims of human trafficking. That’s nearly four times the average number of victims they had identified in previous years. Then the Paraguayan Government moved those victims to their own dedicated facilities, where they began receiving critical health and social support services right away. It was a brilliant strategy for moving fast to help victims of trafficking when the opportunity presented itself.

Second, this year’s report focuses on state-sponsored human trafficking. We documented 11 countries where the government itself is the trafficker – for example, through forced labor on public work projects or in sectors of the economy that the government feels are particularly important.

For the 10th year in a row, the report documents how the Cuban Government has profited from exploitative overseas medical missions. They send doctors and other medical personnel abroad, fail to inform them of the terms of their contracts, confiscate their documents and salaries, threaten them and their family members when they try to leave.

We also report on what’s happening in Xinjiang, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. The Chinese Government has detained more than 1 million people in as many as 1,200 state-run internment camps throughout Xinjiang. Many detainees are subjected to physical violence, sexual abuse, and torture to induce them to work producing apparel, electronics, solar equipment, agricultural products.

And while the practices are the most egregious in Xinjiang, this year’s report notes that China has subjected its citizens to coercive labor practices in other parts of the country as well. The United States has taken measures to stop Chinese goods made with forced labor from making their way into our country. For example, last year, the Departments of State, Commerce, Treasury, and Homeland Security issued a Xinjiang supply chain business advisory to alert U.S. companies of the economic, legal, and reputational exposure to or in connection with operations, supply chains, or laborers from Xinjiang.

We’ll continue to call on our partners around the world to join us in condemning China’s genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and in taking steps to prevent goods made with forced labor from entering our supply chains. Governments should protect and serve their citizens, not terrorize and subjugate them for profit.

And third, the report explicitly acknowledges the connection between systemic inequality and human trafficking. This is something many countries need to grapple with, including the United States. Part of doing right by our people means taking a hard look at the ways that our history and our policies have created the conditions for crimes like human trafficking, because traffickers prey on those who are vulnerable – those who are less likely to have access to good jobs or educational opportunities, who are less likely to be treated as equal by police or the justice system, and who are less likely to be believed when they report that they’re being targeted or abused.

If we’re serious about ending trafficking in persons, we must also work to root out systemic racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination, and to build a more equitable society in every dimension. These goals go hand in hand. So let’s keep that in mind as we work to build back better from the devastation of the pandemic.

I often talked about how the most urgent challenges facing our world cannot be solved by any one country acting alone. That’s true for stopping COVID, it’s true for dealing with the climate crisis, it’s true for the fight against human trafficking. We need to work together, share information, hold each other accountable. That’s how we’ll create a world where no one is exploited by trafficking and everyone is able to live in safety and in dignity.

Thank you.

MS JOHNSTONE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your strong message and those encouraging words. You have long been a champion for anchoring U.S. foreign policy on ensuring human dignity and expanding opportunities for all.

I am thrilled to now turn to celebrating the 2021 TIP Report Heroes. Traditionally we have honored these Heroes in-person at this event. While we wish we could be together, due to COVID-19 precautions, our Heroes are joining us virtually again this year.

To get to know each of our honorees better, we asked this year’s Heroes to prepare short videos answering: “What do you hope to achieve through your anti-trafficking work?” In the following video, you will hear their responses. I am certain you will understand why we are honoring each of them today.

Please join me as we recognize and honor this year’s eight TIP Report Heroes.

(Video is played.)

MS JOHNSTONE: Imelda Poole, in recognition of her exceptional activism in combating human trafficking in Albania and across Europe that has achieved systemic change through grassroots action, employing big picture solutions to address the root causes of vulnerability to the crime, and empowering those with lived experience through her organization’s principles of freedom, justice, truth, and joy.

MS POOLE: Hello. My name is Imelda Poole. Working with Mary Ward Loreto in Albania and RENATE across Europe, my dream for the future is a social economy with a change in law and its implementation which will adopt a trauma-informed, victim-centered, and human rights approach to the law, both in its practice and in terms of real life. Thank you.

MS JOHNSTONE: Josiane Lina Bemaka-Soui, in recognition of her herculean efforts in creating and driving the Central African Republic’s anti-trafficking response by operationalizing the country’s interagency committee, leading the development of the government’s first national action plan to combat human trafficking, and catalyzing action even in difficult conditions at often great personal sacrifice.

MS BEMAKA-SOUI: (Via translation) I am Josiane Lina Bemaka-Soui, Advisor to the President on the Protection of Children and Child Soldiers. With this award, my goal will be to completely eradicate human trafficking in the Central African Republic and establish a new legal code on protection of victims of human trafficking in my country.

MS JOHNSTONE: Chantal Sagbo Sasse, in recognition of her unwavering and heartfelt commitment to the protection and care of child trafficking victims, her creativity and persistence in raising awareness among community members and government officials about human trafficking, and her invaluable anti-trafficking contributions and expertise shared with the Government of Gabon.

MS SAGBO: (Via translation) Hello, everyone. I am Chantal Sagbo, president and founder of the NGO Sifos. Sifos is a non-profit organization that has worked over the last 20 years to promote and protect human rights. Our biggest focus is fighting human trafficking and exploitation. Our vision for 2022 is to build an education and training center for victims, so that they can become the leaders of tomorrow. Thank you.

MS JOHNSTONE: Shoichi Ibusuki, in recognition of his relentless persistence in advocating for the rights of foreign workers in Japan by providing legal representation to many who experienced exploitation, including forced labor, and by elevating the issue and insisting that the government strengthen its efforts to protect foreign workers.

MR IBUSUKI: (Via translation) Hello. I am Ibusuki Shoichi from Tokyo. I am an attorney. Japan’s Technical Intern Training Program is a hotbed of human trafficking and intermediary exploitation. We aim to have this program abolished within the next few years. We will also create conditions where foreign workers can join together and insist on their rights. We will fight together with likeminded people around the world to fight human trafficking. Thank you.

MS JOHNSTONE: Shakhnoza Khassanova, in recognition of her extraordinary leadership in building the organizational capacity of civil society organizations and the judicial system in Kazakhstan to combat human trafficking, her central role in orchestrating humanitarian assistance and ensuring safe migration during the COVID-19 pandemic, and her steadfast dedication to the protection of vulnerable populations.

MS KHASSANOVA: I’m Shakhnoza Khassanova, director of the public association, Legal Center for Women’s Initiatives, Sana Sezim, from Shymkent, Kazakhstan. It’s an honor to receive this prestigious Department of State TIP Hero Report Award. This award is a result of the ongoing joint effort of our team and all stakeholders who continue to provide assistance to migrant workers and victims of human trafficking during the pandemic. We hope that our cooperation in future will become stronger and continue contributing to fight against human trafficking. Thank you.

MS JOHNSTONE: Guillermina Cabrera Figueroa, in recognition of her resolute determination to hold human traffickers in Mexico accountable for their crimes, her persistent efforts to secure funding for the creation of multidisciplinary shelters for human trafficking victims, and her longstanding, dynamic leadership in the Attorney General’s Office.

MS CABRERA FIGUEROA: (Via translation) Hello. I am Guillermina Cabrera Figueroa, Specialized Prosecutor for Trafficking in Persons at the Office of the Attorney General of Mexico. In the coming years, through my work fighting human trafficking, I hope to: strengthen my team with more training and resources; rescue more victims and give them specialized care so they can reintegrate into society; and bring more perpetrators to justice.

MS JOHNSTONE: Mohammed al-Obaidly, in recognition of his pivotal leadership in the ongoing implementation of bold and sweeping reforms in Qatar to strengthen protections for foreign workers and prevent forced labor, his perseverance to instill real changes, and his tireless efforts to enhance collaboration and forge connections with workers, the business community, and foreign governments.

MR AL-OBAIDLY: (Via translation) Hello. My name is Mohammed Hasan al-Obaidly. In the area of combating human trafficking, I would like to develop a guide for the country to identify trafficking in persons victims and provide them with assistance and protection. I also would like to enhance international cooperation and coordination to combat this crime by creating an integrated international law enforcement and security system to prevent, detect and expose human trafficking crimes and bring their perpetrators to justice.

MS JOHNSTONE: Rocio Mora-Nieto, in recognition of her exceptional dedication and efforts to combat sex trafficking in Spain for more than a quarter of a century, her unparalleled compassion and commitment for women exploited in commercial sex, and her highly effective outreach and victim-centered provision of services for victims of human trafficking.

MS NIETO: (Via translation) I am Rocio Mora Nieto. I am the director of APRAMP Madrid, in Spain. I am very grateful for this award because it makes slavery visible. The slavery of thousands and thousands of women who are being trafficked for sexual exploitation. For me, it is crucial to give these women alternatives so that they can escape from this situation and have freedom and dignity in their lives so that no woman is a slave in our streets and in our industrial parks. Thank you very much.

(Applause.)

MS JOHNSTONE: What an inspiring group of leaders. It is such an honor to celebrate your important work.

The TIP Report represents a key tool to effect positive change and encourage governments to increase and improve their anti-trafficking efforts. This includes the United States.

As we evaluated the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on anti-trafficking efforts around the world for this year’s report, it was impossible to ignore the pandemic’s devastating effects. In the chaos and hardship of the last year, we have also seen excellent examples of leadership, resilience, adaptability across the anti-trafficking community – from international organizations to local NGOs, governments, and survivor leaders.

Mexico secured its first trafficking in persons conviction from a virtual court session in June 2020, just weeks after resuming legal proceedings following a two-month shutdown.

In Albania, Senegal, and Jordan, COVID-19 mitigation measures were combined with strategic outreach to populations vulnerable to trafficking.

In addition to these great adaptations, I want to highlight another excellent resource that the department will release in the coming weeks – a guidance document on COVID-19 considerations for anti-trafficking efforts – developed by our Human Trafficking Expert Consultant Network, which comprises individuals with lived experience of human trafficking and other subject matter experts. This guide will include promising practices and helpful standard operating procedures to continue anti-trafficking efforts during a crisis – like this pandemic – while still integrating a trauma-informed approach. Considerable work remains to address the challenges we still face related to the pandemic, but we hope this guidance will advance the integration of a trauma-informed approach into any new crisis-related adaptations.

For the last few years, we have sought to increasingly highlight through our report the importance of governments engaging with survivors and implementing trauma-informed approaches when doing so. We have done so, and our report is all the stronger for it. For the second year, Network experts developed the “Topics of Special Interest” for this year’s report – one about the unique complexities in familial trafficking and another about unifying trauma-informed practices and survivor leadership.

The Network also helped us evaluate and improve the process we use to select photos for the TIP Report. We did this in response to recommendations made in previous years by experts with lived experience of human trafficking. You will notice as you flip through the introduction that there are more photos that include the input of those survivors being photographed. I know we still have a long way to go to truly realize a trauma-informed approach across our anti-trafficking efforts, but I am thankful for the Network experts who helped us to make concrete improvements this year. We will continue to raise the importance of survivor engagement in building a truly effective, comprehensive anti-trafficking response – not just on paper through the TIP Report – but in our year-round engagement with governments around the world.

We know that we can do even better, and we will seek to hold ourselves and – accountable and be transparent in our efforts. I am encouraged by the innovative adaptations of governments, NGOs, and survivor leaders to ensure that our anti-trafficking response is comprehensive and addresses issues as they arise. I look forward to working with all of you to continue the fight against human trafficking.

Thank you again for joining us today, and please remember to go to state.gov to access this year’s TIP Report online. Thank you all.

(Applause.)

More from: Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State, Dr. Kari Johnstone, Acting DirectorOffice to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

Hits: 0

News Network

  • Architect of the Capitol: Efforts Have Begun to Update Cannon House Office Building’s Renovation Cost and Schedule Estimates
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Architect of the Capitol (AOC) has substantially completed three of five planned phases to renovate the Cannon House Office Building (Cannon project). AOC completed Phase 0 utility work; the Phase 1 work to renovate the building's west side, the Phase 2 work to renovate the building's north side; and work is underway on Phase 3 of the building's east side. Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D. C. From 2009 to 2018, AOC consistently estimated the project cost at $753 million, In 2014, GAO found that AOC's cost estimate of $753 million reflected several of GAO's leading practices for high-quality, reliable cost estimates, including that AOC had conducted a risk and uncertainty analysis. GAO found that AOC's cost estimating policies and guidance did not require a quantitative risk and uncertainty analysis nor the reporting of the resulting confidence level of the estimate. GAO made recommendations for AOC to incorporate leading practices into agency guidance and submit confidence levels of cost estimates to Congress. AOC implemented our recommendations. In January 2018, AOC updated its analysis of risks by undertaking an integrated cost-schedule risk analysis. AOC's 2018 analysis arrived at the same conclusion as its earlier analysis—that the project's estimated $753 million total cost was adequate to complete the project. However, AOC's 2018 analysis indicated that inaccurate estimates of costs for risk mitigations, unknown risks, and optimistic assumptions about the effect of risk mitigations on the project's cost and schedule could affect its total cost. AOC updated the analysis in December 2019 and estimated the project cost at $890 million. Two unknown risks materialized after the December 2019 estimate: the effect of COVID-19 and the January 2021 security events–their impact on the project is uncertain. In its March 2021 project summary, AOC reported that a revised budget would be formulated after the completion of an analysis in December 2021. Toward this end, in May 2021, AOC began updating its integrated cost-schedule risk analysis, with the aim of more accurately determining the extent to which the project's costs are increasing and its estimated cost at completion. Why GAO Did This Study In its Cannon project, the AOC intends to preserve the historic character while improving the functionality of the 113 year-old Cannon Building—the oldest congressional office building—as well as address deterioration to the building and its components. The project—nearing year 7 of its planned 10-year duration—is being implemented in five sequential phases with an initial phase (Phase 0) for utility work and four subsequent phases (Phases 1 through 4) to renovate the north-, south-, east-, and west-facing sides of the building. Each phase is scheduled around a 2-year congressional session. This statement describes: (1) the status of the Cannon project and (2) changes to the project's estimated cost at completion. This statement is based on GAO's prior reports in 2009 and 2014 and ongoing monitoring of the project. To monitor the project, GAO has been observing the ongoing construction, attending project meetings, and analyzing AOC documents.
    [Read More…]
  • COVID-19: HHS’s Collection of Hospital Capacity Data
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made frequent and significant changes to the collection of hospital capacity data. In April 2020, HHS created a new data ecosystem—HHS Protect—to capture, among other things, national- and state-level data on inpatient and intensive care beds in use, supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), and COVID-19 treatments. Subsequently, HHS changed the methods through which data could be reported to HHS Protect and also changed reporting requirements. According to HHS officials, this was done to capture more complete data and to capture more information, such as data on influenza-related hospitalizations and COVID-19 vaccines administered. Reporting entities said they experienced multiple challenges implementing the changes, including a lack of clarity on the requirements and logistical challenges such as having to adapt their systems to provide the data. As HHS made changes, HHS issued updated guidance to clarify reporting requirements. HHS uses hospital capacity data to identify and address resource shortages and to inform the public. For example, according to HHS officials, HHS has used the data to provide assistance such as staff resources or supplies in 40 states. Additionally, HHS has shared the hospital capacity data to inform the public. However, public health stakeholders told GAO they have relied on state and local data for their purposes rather than data from HHS Protect. For example, epidemiological association officials said their members relied on state and local data for case investigation because they contained more detailed information and did not use HHS Protect data on hospital capacity. According to HHS officials, some states that may not be collecting their own data rely on HHS Protect capacity data to inform their public health response to the pandemic. HHS agency officials and stakeholders identified the need for stakeholder engagement and improved communication among key lessons learned to better ensure the collection of quality hospital capacity data during a public health emergency. For example, HHS officials told GAO that there is a need for dialogue and external validation to ensure data quality and accuracy. They also noted that the need for a system like HHS Protect will continue beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials GAO interviewed from stakeholder organizations and selected states noted that increased collaboration and communication—as well as more time to implement changes—would have facilitated the implementation of the changes to the data collection process. These lessons learned are consistent with GAO's January 2021 recommendation that HHS engage with stakeholders to review and inform the alignment of ongoing data collection and reporting standards through establishing an expert committee. HHS agreed with the recommendation, but as of June 2021, the department has not implemented it. Why GAO Did This Study The magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of having quality data to help the federal government understand the health care system's capacity to provide care and to inform the allocation of resources. HHS launched HHS Protect in April 2020 to capture hospital capacity data. Throughout the public health emergency HHS has made changes to how information is collected and used. The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to report on its ongoing COVID-19 monitoring and oversight efforts. GAO was asked to examine HHS's implementation of HHS Protect. In this report, GAO describes (1) HHS's implementation of HHS Protect hospital capacity reporting requirements and the challenges experienced by reporting entities; (2) HHS's and stakeholders' use of the data, if at all; and (3) lessons learned about ensuring the collection of quality hospital capacity data during a public health emergency. GAO reviewed agency guidance and HHS Protect hospital capacity dashboards and reports, and interviewed HHS officials as well as officials from three states that report or reported directly to HHS Protect on behalf of their hospitals. These states were selected for variation in geography and the mix of rural and non-rural hospital facilities. GAO also interviewed officials from public health stakeholder groups including hospital associations, epidemiological associations, and local health organizations. GAO provided a draft of this report to HHS for review and comment. HHS had no comments on the report. For more information, contact Jessica Farb at (202) 512-7114 or farbj@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Local man who attempted to smuggle 13,000 rounds of ammunition sent to prison
    In Justice News
    A 40-year old Laredo man [Read More…]
  • Gang “enforcer” sentenced for trafficking a large amount of stolen marijuana
    In Justice News
    A Rio Grande City man [Read More…]
  • Laredo man sentenced for undocumented alien death due to car wreck
    In Justice News
    A 28-year-old Laredoan [Read More…]
  • Human smuggling recruiter sentenced for conspiracy
    In Justice News
    A 58-year-old Chandler [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken And Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi Before Their Meeting
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Biodefense: After-Action Findings and COVID-19 Response Revealed Opportunities to Strengthen Preparedness
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Key federal agencies, including the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS), Defense (DOD), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Agriculture (USDA), developed a range of interagency response plans to prepare for nationally significant biological incidents. These strategic, operational, and tactical level plans address responding to a broad spectrum of biological threats, including those that are intentional, accidental, or naturally occurring. DHS, DOD, HHS, and USDA conducted numerous interagency exercises to help prepare for and respond to a wide variety of biological incidents, such as anthrax attacks, influenza pandemics, and diseases affecting plants and animals. Specifically, GAO identified 74 interagency biological incident exercises conducted from calendar years 2009 through 2019. Number of Interagency Biological Incident Exercises Conducted, Calendar Years 2009 through 2019 GAO's analysis of after-action reports for selected interagency biological incident exercises and real-world incidents, as well as the COVID-19 response, identified long-standing biodefense challenges. GAO found that the nation lacked elements necessary for preparing for nationally significant biological incidents, including a process at the interagency level to assess and communicate priorities for exercising capabilities. Further, it determined that agencies do not routinely work together in monitoring results from exercises and real-world incidents to identify patterns and root causes for systemic challenges. Assessing and communicating exercise priorities and routinely monitoring the results of the exercises and incidents will help ensure the nation is better prepared to respond to the next biological threat. Why GAO Did This Study The COVID-19 pandemic shows how catastrophic biological incidents can cause substantial loss of life, economic damage, and require a whole-of-nation response involving multiple federal and nonfederal entities. The 2018 National Biodefense Strategy outlines specific goals and objectives to help prepare for and respond to such incidents. The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to conduct monitoring and oversight of federal efforts to prepare for, respond to, and recover from COVID-19. This report addresses: (1) interagency plans key federal agencies developed, and exercises they conducted, to help prepare for biological incidents; and (2) the extent to which exercises and real-world incidents revealed opportunities to better achieve National Biodefense Strategy objectives. GAO reviewed biological incident plans and after-action reports from exercises and real-world incidents from calendar years 2009 through 2019, including a non-generalizable sample of 19 reports selected based on threat scenario and other factors. GAO interviewed federal and state officials to obtain their perspectives on plans, exercises, and the COVID-19 response.
    [Read More…]
  • Human Trafficking: DOD Should Address Weaknesses in Oversight of Contractors and Reporting of Investigations Related to Contracts
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The U.S. government has a zero tolerance policy for human trafficking, as established in a presidential directive, but trafficking in persons (TIP) of foreign workers on U.S. government contracts overseas persists. Selected Department of Defense (DOD) components have conducted limited oversight of contractors and not met combating trafficking in persons (CTIP) training requirements for contracts. Twelve of 14 Army and Navy contracting officers and contracting officer representatives (CORs) GAO spoke with said they were not aware of their CTIP oversight responsibilities, as set forth in CTIP guidance. DOD requires CORs to conduct contract oversight, but does not say how they should do so. Moreover, nine of 14 individuals said they took a CTIP training other than the required training for acquisition professionals. DOD CTIP guidance, as of fiscal year 2018, also no longer requires components to report the number or percentage of personnel trained, which may limit DOD's awareness about whether acquisition professionals have taken their required training. Until DOD provides guidance to explain how contracting personnel should oversee contractor CTIP compliance and ensures they take the correct training, contracting personnel may continue to be unaware of their CTIP responsibilities. Department of Defense (DOD) Combatting Trafficking in Persons Awareness Poster The Army, the Navy, and DOD's Office of Inspector General (DODIG) have systems for tracking investigations of TIP incidents, but the Army and DODIG did not report all TIP violations and investigations in contracts in annual self-assessments, as required by DOD guidance. For example, the Army and DODIG had incomplete reporting of closed TIP investigations in their annual reporting from fiscal years 2015 through 2020. Without complete reporting, DOD leadership lacks full information on TIP investigations. GAO also found that two investigations led to DOD taking action against the contractors, but the Army contracting officers did not report them as TIP violations in a federal database, as required. DOD guidance and federal regulations have different requirements for who is responsible for this reporting, and the Army has not developed clarifying guidance. Without accurate reporting of actions taken against contractors in this database, contracting officers will lack complete information when making future award decisions involving contractors that engaged in TIP. Why GAO Did This Study GAO and DODIG reports on overseas U.S. military operations have highlighted TIP among foreign workers employed on contracts. Congress included a provision in the conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 for GAO to review DOD's efforts to combat TIP related to contracts. This report examines, among other things: the extent to which selected DOD components have implemented oversight and training requirements for CTIP in contracts and the extent to which selected DOD components have tracked and reported investigations of TIP incidents in contracts from fiscal years 2015 through 2020. GAO analyzed federal laws, and DOD guidance, regulations, contracts, and data related to CTIP. GAO also interviewed DOD officials, including Army and Navy officials responsible for overseeing contracts in U.S. Southern Command.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with Palauan President Whipps, Jr.
    In Crime Control and Security News
    The below is [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with UK Foreign Secretary Raab
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken and President of Palau Surangel Whipps, Jr. Before Their Meeting
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Participation in the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • The United States and ASEAN: Strategic Partners for the Indo-Pacific
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Man Sentenced for Receiving, Soliciting and Promoting Child Pornography
    In Crime News
    A Virginia man was sentenced today to 240 months, or 20 years, in prison, to be followed by a lifetime of supervised release, for downloading images and videos depicting children as young as 4 years old being sexually abused, and for utilizing the Dark Net to solicit and promote child pornography.
    [Read More…]
  • Executive Arrested and Charged for Bribery and Money-Laundering Scheme
    In Crime News
    A South Florida resident was arrested yesterday in Miami on charges related to his alleged role in a scheme to bribe Venezuelan officials and launder funds to obtain contracts from Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company, Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), and Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled food company that purchased food for Venezuela, Corporación de Abastecimiento y Servicios Agrícola (CASA).
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Obtains $1.25 Million Settlement from Oklahoma City Landlords to Resolve Claims of Sexual Harassment Against Female Tenants
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma have reached a $1.25 million agreement with defendants Rosemarie Pelfrey, Omega Enterprises LLC and Pelfrey Investment Company Inc. to resolve a Fair Housing Act lawsuit alleging that their agent, Walter Ray Pelfrey (Pelfrey), sexually harassed female tenants and prospective tenants while owning or managing dozens of Oklahoma City – area rental properties. Pelfrey died in 2018.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice and Interior Departments Take Next Steps in Implementation of Not Invisible Act
    In Crime News
    The Departments of Justice and the Interior today announced next steps in the implementation of the Not Invisible Act, including the publication of a solicitation for nominations of non-federal members to join a Joint Commission on reducing violent crime against American Indians and Alaska Natives to address the long-standing missing and murdered indigenous persons crisis. 
    [Read More…]
  • Briefing With Senior State Department Officials Previewing Secretary Blinken’s Participation in This Week’s ASEAN-Related Ministerials
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Department Press Briefing – August 2, 2021
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken Remarks to the Press on the Announcement of a U.S. Refugee Admissions Program Priority 2 Designation for Afghan Nationals
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Bankruptcy Filings Plunged to Lowest Number Since 1985
    In U.S Courts
    Personal and business bankruptcy filings plummeted 32.2 percent for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2021. The number of filings was the lowest in a 12-month period since 1985.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with Muslim Frontline Workers on the Occasion of Eid al-Adha
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Afghan President Ghani
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Participation in the Mekong-U.S. Partnership Ministers’ Meeting
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Las Vegas Couple Indicted for Tax Evasion Scheme
    In Crime News
     A federal grand jury in Las Vegas, Nevada, returned an indictment today charging a Las Vegas husband and wife with conspiring to defraud the IRS, tax evasion, filing a false tax return, assisting in the filing of false tax returns, and failing to file tax returns and pay federal income taxes.
    [Read More…]
  • U.S. Foreign Service Member Indicted for Engaging in Illicit Sexual Conduct in the Philippines and Possession of Child Pornography
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia returned an indictment today charging a member of the U.S. Foreign Service with engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place and possession of child pornography.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Settles with Florida’s Volusia County School District to Protect Students with Disabilities from Classroom Removals and Other Discrimination
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department announced today a settlement agreement with Florida’s Volusia County School District (VCS) to address the district’s systemic and discriminatory practices that punish students with disabilities for their disability-related behavior and deny them equal access to VCS’s programs and services.
    [Read More…]
  • Leader of Transnational Money-Laundering Network Pleads Guilty to Aiding Drug-Trafficking Organizations, While Co-Conspirator is Sentenced
    In Crime News
    A Chinese national and naturalized U.S. citizen pleaded guilty yesterday to his involvement in a conspiracy to launder at least $30 million in drug proceeds on behalf of foreign drug-trafficking organizations.
    [Read More…]
  • Briefing with Senior State Department Officials On the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program Priority 2 (P-2) Designation for Afghan Nationals
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Virtual Summit of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • U.S. Refugee Admissions Program Priority 2 Designation for Afghan Nationals
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Federal-State Settlement Resolves Environmental Violations at Hussey Copper Smelting Facility in Leetsdale, Pennsylvania
    In Crime News
    Hussey Copper has agreed to perform a comprehensive environmental audit, implement an updated environmental management system, and pay an $861,500 penalty to resolve alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) and Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law (PCSL) at its smelting facility in Leetsdale, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
    [Read More…]
  • 20 arrested for conspiracy to distribute thousands of pounds of marijuana
    In Justice News
    A total of 16 Laredoans [Read More…]
  • North Carolina Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty to Preparing False Returns
    In Crime News
    A Winston-Salem, North Carolina, tax preparer pleaded guilty today to aiding and assisting in the preparation of a false tax return and to filing a false personal income tax return. 
    [Read More…]
  • Former Labor Union Chief of Staff Convicted of Health Care Fraud
    In Crime News
    A federal jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia convicted an Arkansas man on Friday for fraudulently arranging for a labor union to provide health plan coverage to his girlfriend, who was never a union employee.
    [Read More…]
  • Mail-Order Diabetic Testing Supplier and Parent Company Agree to Pay $160 Million to Resolve Alleged False Claims to Medicare
    In Crime News
    Arriva Medical LLC (Arriva), at one point the nation’s largest Medicare mail-order diabetic testing supplier, and its parent, Alere Inc. (Alere), have agreed to pay $160 million to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act.
    [Read More…]
  • Former Chief Financial Officer of Publicly Traded Company Convicted of Securities and Accounting Fraud
    In Crime News
    A federal jury in the Eastern District of Wisconsin on Thursday convicted the former chief financial officer of Roadrunner Transportation Systems Inc. (Roadrunner), a publicly traded trucking and logistics company formerly headquartered in Cudahy, Wisconsin, on four counts of violating federal securities laws for his role in a complex securities and accounting fraud scheme.
    [Read More…]
  • Under Secretary Nuland’s Travel to South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, and Niger
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Attack on Mercer Street Vessel
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Swiss Confederation National Day
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Lenderking’s Return from Saudi Arabia
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Sanctioning Cuban Police in Response to Violent Repression of Peaceful Protests
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • United States and Canada Forge Ahead on Critical Minerals Cooperation
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Harassment of Foreign Journalists in the People’s Republic of China
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Public Schedule – July 30, 2021
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya, Special Envoy for the Northern Triangle Ricardo Zuniga, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Deputy Assistant Secretary Marta Youth, and Senior Advisor to the USAID Administrator and Executive Director of the USAID Northern Triangle Task Force Michael Camilleri On the Collaborative Migration Management Strategy and Root Causes Strategy Toward Migration
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Marta Costanzo Youth, [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken And Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Dr. Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah At a Joint Press Availability
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • July 29, 2021, letter commenting on AICPA’s February 2021 Exposure Draft, “Proposed Statements on Quality Management Standards – Quality Management”
    In U.S GAO News
    This letter provides GAO's response to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Auditing Standards Board's (ASB) Proposed Statement on Quality Management Standards – Quality Management: A Firm's System of Quality Management (SQMS No. 1); Proposed Statement on Quality Management Standards – Engagement Quality Reviews (SQMS No. 2); and Proposed Statement on Auditing Standards, Quality Management for an Engagement Conducted in Accordance with Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (QM SAS). GAO provides standards for performing high-quality audits of government organizations, programs, activities, and functions and of government assistance to contractors, nonprofit organizations, and other nongovernment organizations with competence, integrity, objectivity, and independence. These standards, often referred to as generally accepted government auditing standards (GAGAS), are to be followed when required by law, regulation, agreement, contract, or policy. For financial audits, GAGAS incorporates by reference the AICPA's Statements on Auditing Standards (SAS). For attestation engagements, GAGAS incorporates by reference the AICPA's Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements.
    [Read More…]
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program: Additional Actions Needed to Improve Communication with Applicants and Address Fraud Risks
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) applicants and recipients varied in terms of business size, years in operation, and industry, based on GAO's analysis of Small Business Administration (SBA) data from March 2020 through February 2021: Business size. A majority of EIDL applicants (about 81 percent) and EIDL recipients (about 86 percent) were smaller businesses (10 or fewer employees). Years in operation. A majority of EIDL applicants (about 63 percent) had been in operation for less than 5 years. However, businesses in operation for more than 5 years received the majority of total EIDL loan dollars and had higher approval rates compared to newer businesses. Industry. Businesses in the personal services and transportation industries made up the largest share of applicants, while those in the legal services and lodging industries were approved for loans at the highest rates (see figure). Top Loan Applicants and Approval Rates by Business Industry In addition, small businesses in counties with higher median household income, better internet access, and more diverse populations generally received more loans per 1,000 businesses and larger loans. EIDL applicants have faced a number of challenges, according to applicants and other business stakeholders GAO interviewed between August 2020 and February 2021. For example, applicants from five discussion groups and several stakeholders cited lack of information and uncertainty about application status as major concerns. In addition, until February 2021, SBA did not provide important information to potential applicants, such as limits on loan amounts and definitions of certain program terms. Lack of important program information and application status put pressure on SBA's resources and negatively affected applicants' experience. For example, SBA's customer service line experienced call surges that resulted in long wait times, and SBA's data showed that 5.3 million applications were duplicates. SBA's planning documents describe in general terms the public outreach to be conducted following disasters, but they do not detail the type or timing of the information to be provided. Developing and implementing a comprehensive communication strategy that includes these details could improve the quality, clarity, and timeliness of information SBA provides to its applicants and resource partners following catastrophic disasters. GAO's ongoing review of the EIDL program related to COVID-19 has found that the program is susceptible to providing funding to ineligible and fraudulent applicants. For example, as GAO reported in January 2021, SBA had approved at least 3,000 loans totaling about $156 million to businesses that SBA policies state were ineligible for the EIDL program, such as real estate developers and multilevel marketers, as of September 30, 2020. In addition, GAO found that between May and October 2020, over 900 U.S. financial institutions filed more than 20,000 suspicious activity reports related to the EIDL program with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. Further, GAO's analysis of 51 Department of Justice cases involving fraud charges for EIDL loans as of March 2021 found that these cases involved identity theft, false attestation, fictitious or inflated employee counts, and misuse of proceeds. Over the course of its COVID-19 response, SBA has made some changes to address these risks. For example, beginning in June 2020, SBA took actions to improve loan officers' ability to withhold funding for applicants suspected of fraud. However, SBA has not yet implemented recommendations GAO has previously made to address EIDL program risks. In January 2021, GAO recommended that SBA conduct data analytics across the EIDL portfolio to detect potentially ineligible and fraudulent applications (GAO-21-265). SBA did not agree or disagree with this recommendation. However, in May 2021, SBA officials stated the agency was in the process of developing analysis to apply certain fraud indicators to all application data.   In March 2021, GAO recommended that SBA (1) implement a comprehensive oversight plan to identify and respond to risks in the EIDL program, (2) conduct and document a fraud risk assessment, and (3)  develop a strategy to address the program’s assessed fraud risks on a continuous basis (GAO-21-387). SBA agreed with all three recommendations. In May 2021, SBA officials stated that the agency had started to assess fraud risk for the program. Fully implementing these recommendations would help SBA to safeguard billions of dollars of taxpayer funds and improve the operation of the EIDL program. Why GAO Did This Study Between March 2020 and February 2021, SBA provided about 3.8 million low-interest EIDL loans and 5.8 million grants (called advances) totaling $224 billion to help small businesses adversely affected by COVID-19. Borrowers can use these low-interest loans and advances to pay for operating and other expenses. The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to monitor funds provided for the COVID-19 pandemic. This report examines, among other objectives, the characteristics of program applicants and recipients; the challenges EIDL applicants experienced and the extent to which SBA has addressed them; and the steps SBA has taken to address risks of fraud and provision of funds to ineligible applicants. GAO reviewed documents from SBA, an EIDL contractor, and two of its subcontractors. In addition, GAO analyzed loan application data, conducted five discussion groups with applicants, and interviewed staff from SBA, six Small Business Development Centers, and six business associations. GAO also analyzed socioeconomic, demographic, and geographic data on EIDL program participants.
    [Read More…]
  • National Flood Insurance Program: Congress Should Consider Updating the Mandatory Purchase Requirement
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The mandatory purchase requirement mandates flood insurance for certain high-risk properties and was established to increase the number of households with flood insurance. Lenders must verify that certain properties have flood insurance. At least 10 federal entities oversee lenders' compliance, including the federal banking regulators, among others (see figure). The most frequent violation the regulators identified was related to a lack of or insufficient flood insurance coverage for properties subject to the requirement. If regulators identify violations, lenders are required to take corrective actions, and if a pattern or practice of certain flood insurance violations is found, monetary penalties may be assessed against them. Oversight of the Mandatory Purchase Requirement The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), engages in a variety of efforts to help increase consumer participation in the flood insurance market (one of the agency's goals). However, FEMA does not effectively use information related to compliance with the requirement to identify ways to meet this goal. Information currently maintained by FEMA and other federal entities could help inform FEMA on noncompliance trends and patterns and help FEMA to develop strategies to address them. By using internal and external information to better understand compliance with the requirement, and facilitating the sharing of this information among the federal entities with responsibilities related to the requirement, FEMA may help reduce instances of noncompliance, increase consumer participation, and limit the federal government's fiscal exposure to future flood losses. FEMA's floodplain maps—which, by law, delineate those properties subject to the requirement—have limitations. For example, they may not reflect current flood hazards or the potential for flooding from some types of events, such as heavy rainfall. FEMA has efforts underway that can assess flood risk more comprehensively. However, FEMA has not evaluated how the new information could be incorporated into the requirement because the agency believes it has a limited role in implementing the requirement. In addition, changes to the maps for the purpose of implementing the requirement could impact other aspects of NFIP. An evaluation by FEMA of how its new flood risk information could be used to designate which properties are subject to the requirement could help Congress revise the requirement to better increase consumer participation and reduce future federal disaster assistance expenditures. Why GAO Did This Study Flood insurance plays a key role in helping homeowners reduce the financial effects of floods, reduces the need for federal disaster assistance, and lowers costs for American taxpayers. NFIP makes federally backed flood insurance available to property owners in qualifying communities. The mandatory purchase requirement requires property owners in NFIP communities to purchase flood insurance if, among other things, they have mortgages from federally regulated lenders. GAO was asked to review the implementation of the mandatory purchase requirement. This report (1) describes federal entities' oversight of the requirement, (2) examines the extent to which FEMA uses information about compliance with the requirement, and (3) examines the use of FEMA floodplain maps to determine who must purchase flood insurance. GAO reviewed documentation from federal entities, analyzed data on lender violations of the requirement, and interviewed officials and other stakeholders.
    [Read More…]
  • Economic Development: Opportunities Exist for Further Collaboration among EDA, HUD, and USDA
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Federal economic development programs and state business incentives approach economic development in different ways. In GAO's review of six large state business incentive packages ($50 million or more) in four states, federal economic development program funds were not directly used. Reasons for limited use could include differences in purposes and goals, and limitations on how federal funds can be used. For example, the goals of economic development programs administered by the Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) do not completely align with the goals of state business incentives, the latter of which include attracting and retaining individual businesses. Although these incentive packages were not funded with federal economic development program funds, some of the businesses that received a large incentive package were highlighted in federal strategic plans as opportunities for investment and job growth in the local economy. The economic development programs of EDA, HUD, and USDA each encourage or require state and local communities to conduct strategic planning, which includes obtaining input from a range of public and private stakeholders and identifying ways to leverage other available resources, such as federal and state funding. Recognizing the similarities in what they require of grantees, in 2016, EDA and HUD entered into an interagency agreement to align planning requirements under their programs. The agencies implemented certain aspects of the agreement, such as issuing joint guidance to applicants. However, they have not implemented selected leading practices for effective interagency collaboration: Updating written agreements: EDA and HUD have not regularly monitored or updated their interagency agreement to reflect changing priorities of either agency. Officials stated the agencies have prioritized other areas for coordination, such as disaster relief, instead of state and local strategic planning processes. Including relevant participants: EDA and HUD have made limited efforts to involve USDA in their collaborative efforts. USDA also encourages strategic planning for local communities. Monitoring progress towards outcomes: EDA and HUD's agreement identifies specific outcomes, including effectively aligning federal, state, and local resources for economic development. However, the agencies have not monitored progress or addressed any related challenges in meeting the stated outcomes of the collaboration. By incorporating selected leading practices for effective collaboration, EDA and HUD can help grantees and local communities better manage fragmented efforts to meet federal requirements for strategic planning and more effectively align federal and state resources. Why GAO Did This Study States spend billions of dollars annually in business incentives to attract and retain individual businesses or industries. EDA, HUD, and USDA administer programs that support states' economic development goals and encourage strategic planning. In previous reports, we have identified concerns related to fragmentation in these agencies' efforts to collaborate on economic development programs with each other. GAO was asked to review issues related to these state and federal economic development efforts. This report examines the use of federal economic development programs to support state business incentives and how selected federal agencies collaborate on these programs, among other issues. GAO reviewed information on federal economic development programs and business incentives in four states (selected because the states offer incentives of $50 million or more and vary geographically). GAO interviewed federal and state agency officials and policy organizations.
    [Read More…]
  • The Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations Announces Award for Worldwide Architectural and Engineering Support Services
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Russian Government Actions Impacting U.S. Mission Russia
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Iranian National Charged with Illegally Exporting Laboratory Equipment to Iran
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned an indictment today charging a Canadian national with the unlawful export of laboratory equipment from the United States to Iran, through Canada and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
    [Read More…]
  • Man Sentenced for COVID-19 Relief Fraud
    In Crime News
    A Florida man was sentenced today to 33 months in prison for fraudulently seeking over $7,263,564 in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
    [Read More…]
  • United States Seizes Oil Tanker Used to Violate Sanctions Against North Korea
    In Crime News
    A New York federal court today entered a judgment of forfeiture regarding the M/T Courageous, a 2,734-ton oil-products tanker used to make illicit deliveries of petroleum products through ship-to-ship transfers with vessels flagged in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) and direct shipments to the North Korean port of Nampo.
    [Read More…]
  • U.S. Promoter of Foreign Cryptocurrency Companies Pleads Guilty for Role in Multimillion-Dollar Securities Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    A California man pleaded guilty today in the Eastern District of New York for his participation in a coordinated cryptocurrency and securities fraud scheme through purported digital currency platforms and foreign-based financial accounts.
    [Read More…]
  • Antitrust Division Observes National Whistleblower Appreciation Day
    In Crime News
    The Antitrust Division today commemorates National Whistleblower Appreciation Day, which celebrates individuals who act with courage to speak out and report crimes, including antitrust violations like price-fixing, bid rigging and market allocation conspiracies.
    [Read More…]
  • Government Intervenes in False Claims Act Lawsuits Against Kaiser Permanente Affiliates for Submitting Inaccurate Diagnosis Codes to the Medicare Advantage Program
    In Crime News
    The United States has intervened in six complaints alleging that members of the Kaiser Permanente consortium violated the False Claims Act by submitting inaccurate diagnosis codes for its Medicare Advantage Plan enrollees in order to receive higher reimbursements.
    [Read More…]