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Senate Intelligence Officials Plan to Question Treasury

Posted: 2017-11-14 17:20

“If true, those allegations would represent a serious abuse of spying powers to gather Americans’ financial information,” Keith Chu, a spokesman for Sen. Ron Wyden, who also sits on the committee, told Gizmodo. Chu added that Sen. Wyden intends to thoroughly investigate the matter, as well as “take a close look at whether the rules currently protecting Americans from government abuse are strong enough and adequately enforced.”

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Unlike FinCEN, the OIA is a component of the US intelligence community and focused on criminal activity outside the US. It is therefore bound by a Reagan-era executive order that limits the ways in intelligence agencies focused on foreign threats target Americans. OIA is required, for instance, to establish its own internal guidelines with regard to domestic surveillance the guidelines must in turn be approved by the US attorney general. It has never done so—a fact noted by national security and civil liberties reporter Marcy Wheeler nearly three years ago.


At issue, according to BuzzFeed’s report, is a vast database of US citizens’ financial information turned over to the government by banks in accordance with federal law intended to track suspicious transactions. The database is maintained by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau under the Treasury Department’s umbrella charged with investigating money laundering, terrorist financing, illicit drug trade, and other shady business.

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“The Department is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies, and requirements under Russian law that allow Russian intelligence agencies to request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks,” a DHS spokesperson said in a statement. “The risk that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates . national security.”

Citing Russian Ties, Homeland Security Boots Kaspersky

In a statement obtained by BuzzFeed , a Kaspersky spokesperson emphasized the lack of evidence demonstrating it has done anything wrong. “No credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organization as the accusations are based on false allegations and inaccurate assumptions, including claims about the impact of Russian regulations and policies on the company,” the spokesperson said. Earlier this summer, the company offered to open its source code for inspection by US officials.

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