IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said: "This report shows that as financial crime has evolved and proliferated around the world, so have IRS Criminal Investigation special agents and their abilities to track the proceeds of financial crime."

IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said: "This report shows that as financial crime has evolved and proliferated around the world, so have IRS Criminal Investigation special agents and their abilities to track the proceeds of financial crime." Jacquelyn Martin/AP

IRS Criminal Investigators Report Progress Despite Shrunken Staff

Smallest workforce since 1970s is relying more on data analytics to track crimes.

Operating with its lowest complement of special agents since the 1970s, the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division still achieved one of the highest crime conviction rates in federal law enforcement, according to its fiscal 2018 annual report released on Wednesday.

The staff of 3,000—including 2,100 special agents and 789 administrative staffers in 21 field offices— achieved a conviction rate of 91.7 percent in fiscal 2018, the report said, noting that 73 percent of the cases involved federal tax crimes.

“This report shows that as financial crime has evolved and proliferated around the world, so have IRS Criminal Investigation special agents and their abilities to track the proceeds of financial crime,” IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said. “[Criminal Investigation] uses cutting-edge technology combined with sophisticated investigative work to bring the most impactful cases that affect tax administration.”

Division Chief Don Fort said his team had “prioritized the use of data” in identifying cases of non-compliance in international tax enforcement, employment tax, refund fraud and tax-related identity theft.

But the division also helps other agencies in non-tax cases involving corruption, cybercrime, terrorist financing and money laundering. For example, the report’s sections on each field office noted that Dallas, Texas, Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway on Aug. 9, 2018, pleaded guilty to accepting more than $450,000 in kickbacks and bribes, in part through a phony consulting agreement, gambling money and trips to Las Vegas.

The division’s Narcotics and Counterterrorism program supports the goals of the President’s Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime, the U.S. National Drug Control Strategy, the National Money Laundering Strategy, and the National Counterterrorism Strategy, noted the report—the 100th in the division’s history.

Overseas, the division stations special agent attachés in 10 foreign countries (Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Panama, Barbados, The Netherlands – Europol, England, Germany, China and Australia). Their alliances with foreign governments and industry partners, the report said, “provide [the division] with the ability to develop international investigative leads and support domestic investigations that have an international connection.”

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