Vance Cybercrime Unit to Be Funded With Bank Settlements

A new unit to track the movement of illicit money from around the world through Manhattan will be funded with some of the $3 billion brought in through agreements with banks over violations of U.S. sanctions law, District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. told a cybercrime symposium.

“Due to money received in the sanctions investigations, we can invest in public-safety efforts in New York City that relate to cybercrime and technology,” Vance, 59, said today at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. The unit, as yet unnamed, is being referred to internally as an international money movement unit, and is expected to start by the end of the year.

Patterns in money transfers can help detect other crimes, such as human trafficking, Vance said. He said his office will continue to work with private industry on other areas of cybercrime including intellectual property theft.

The new unit will be part of the district attorney’s Major Economic Crime Bureau, and is the latest of Vance’s initiatives to focus on new technology to fight all types of crime. In May, his office announced it had formed a data-focused group to probe financial activity involving everything from street crime to computer crime. The new unit will operate within that one, Vance said.

Computer Forensics

Vance’s office “has been involved in so many groundbreaking initiatives to lead this country in what it needs to do: investigate and prosecute high-tech crimes,” said Don Brackman, director of the National White Collar Crime Center, an agency that helps law enforcement and regulatory agencies prosecute crimes using computer forensics and intelligence analysis.

Six settlements have been reached with large foreign banks including HSBC Holdings Plc and Standard Chartered Plc over disguised wire transfers with governments subject to U.S. trade sanctions. A small portion of the almost $3 billion the money-laundering settlements have brought in will be used to fund the new unit, which will also train other prosecutors’ offices in New York, Vance said.

In September, Vance released a report that said New York needed to update state laws dating from 1986 to better prosecute white-collar criminals. Current laws predate the Internet, social media and e-commerce and can’t keep pace with the increasingly sophisticated frauds his office handles, he said.

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