@StateDept Inspector General Vacancy Now at 657 Days and Counting

 

By the time you’re reading this, it would be 657 days since the State Department had a Senate-confirmed Inspector General. Despite the beating that office suffered during the previous administration, the current administration does not seem to be in any great hurry to nominate an Inspector General for the State Department.
IG Quick Facts:

IG Independence | Congress created OIGs to strike a workable balance for IGs and agency principals. This balance is accomplished through a number of provisions of the IG Act.

The IG Act specifically prohibits agency management officials from supervising the IG. This organizational independence helps limit the potential for conflicts of interest when an audit or investigative function is placed under the authority of the official whose programs are being scrutinized. The IG Act insulates IGs against reprisal and promotes independent and objective reporting. Additionally, the IG Act promotes independence through individual reporting of OIG budgets. For example, Section 6(g) requires OIG’s requested budget to be separately identified within the Department of State’s budget. Section 6(g)(3) authorizes OIG to comment to Congress on the sufficiency of its budget if the amount proposed in the President’s budget would substantially inhibit the IG from performing the duties of the office. Additionally, the Department of State Authorities Act, Fiscal Year 2017, requires annual certification by the Secretary that the Department has ensured the integrity and independence of OIG’s network, information systems, and files.

IG Access to Agency Principal | The IG is required to have direct and prompt access to the agency principal when necessary to perform his or her functions and responsibilities. This helps ensure that the agency principal is directly and promptly alerted to serious problems and abuses within the agency. Conversely, the Department of State is required to submit to OIG—within 5 business days of becoming aware of the allegation—a report of any allegation of (1) waste, fraud, or abuse in a Department program or operation; (2) criminal or serious misconduct on the part of a Department employee at the FS1, GS-15, or GM-15 level or higher; (3) criminal misconduct on the part of a Department employee at any level; and (4) serious, noncriminal misconduct on the part of any Department employee who is authorized to carry a weapon, make arrests, or conduct searches.

IG Reporting Obligations | The IG Act creates a dual-reporting obligation for IGs—to keep both Congress and the agency principal fully and currently informed about deficiencies in agency programs and operations.

Unfortunately, the Quick Facts does not include what can be done when the agency principal gets the IG fired for no reason beyond the office conducting oversight investigations that made the IG “a bad actor” in the eyes of the principal and his cronies.
The last time there was a lengthy vacancy at the IG, it was for almost 2,000 days or 5.4 years (see After 1,989 Day-Vacancy — President Obama Nominates Steve Linick as State Dept Inspector General).
Harold W. Geisel served as Acting IG from 2008-2013. Steve Linick served from 2013-2020. After Linick’s firing, Stephen Akard served as Acting IG for three months, Diana Shaw was Acting IG for a month, and Matthew Klimow served as Acting IG from August-December 2020. Diana Shaw once again became Acting IG for the State Department in December 2020 and continues to serve in that role to-date.
Congressional members made lots of noises, of course, after the Linick firing. They even conducted hearings. Which did not amount to anything really. Nothing happened besides a bad news cycle for Mikey Po so what could possibly dissuade any agency principal from doing exactly the same thing?
Defense (2,245 days) and OPM (2,204 days) currently have longer IG vacancies than State but the WH has previously announced the nominees for those agencies and they are currently awaiting confirmation. Whereas State (and Treasury) have been forgotten by the time lords.
We hope this isn’t a purposeful omission that could last the entire Blinken tenure.
It also occurred to us that one can avoid all the messiness of firing an IG by not appointing one.
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A Small Post in Africa Just Fired “Several Dozen Male Employees”

We received the following in our inbox recently:

The Embassy held a town hall and finally disclosed that several dozen male employees had been separated from employment.

Charges included:

— improper used of government computers

— immoral conduct for posting obscene images and videos to a social media chat group

Criminal investigation is ongoing.

TDY staff have been flown in from other AF posts, NEA and Washington DC.

Outgoing ambassador departs soon; incoming ambassador to arrive in February.

Most of the job vacancies should be listed on the Embassy website in the coming weeks.

So this is a small post.  Since most jobs are expected to be advertised on the embassy website, we can assume that those separated from employment were locally hired staffers. “Several” means more than two and fewer than many.
Let’s say we have about a hundred employees at this post, with half of those male. Several dozens, say three dozens would be 36 employees. If four dozens, that would be the entire male population, half of the locally hired staff, wouldn’t it?
How would embassies ever find out what shenanigans are going on in their computer systems?
Information Systems Security Officers (ISSO) are responsible for implementing the Department’s information systems security program and for working closely with system managers on compliance with information systems security standards. The Bureau of Information Resource Management’s Office of ISSO Oversight, Regional, and Domestic Division, assists, supports, and coordinates the activities of domestic and overseas ISSOs.
In 2017, OIG inspection reports have repeatedly found deficiencies in the performance of ISSO duties. The Management Assistance Report then notes the following:

OIG reviewed information management findings in reports of overseas inspections conducted from fall FY 2014 to spring FY 2016 and found that 33 percent (17 out of 51) reported findings on the non-performance of ISSO duties. Specifically, the reports noted that information management personnel failed to perform regular reviews and analyses of information systems audits logs, user libraries, emails, workstations, servers, and hard drives for indications of inappropriate or unusual activity in accordance with Department standards.

But what if this post was previously:
— informed in 2019 that its unclassified and classified Information Systems Security Officers (ISSO) did not perform all information systems security duties, such as review and analysis of information systems audit logs for inappropriate or unusual activity, as required by 12 FAM 613.4?
— informed that its ISSOs did not brief new employees on their information security responsibilities and the Department’s policies? OIG notes that ISSO briefings are particularly important for LE staff who have never worked for the U.S. Government.
— informed that its ISSOs did not use the Department’s ISSO resources, such as standard operating procedures and checklists, to prioritize and plan their duties?
— made aware that a lack of planning and training as well as competing priorities led the embassy to neglect these duties and this has resulted in the security of the Department’s computer systems at risk?
Who should then be held accountable for this incident?
Or.
Perhaps, it took the embassy this long to finally conduct a systems audit logs and other systems security duties as required, and that’s how they found out about these obscene images?
Who should get an award?
Makes one wonder about that 17 posts who were reported for non-performance of ISSO duties.
What might they find there when they finally do perform those duties?

 

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USDOJ: Government Contractor Indicted for Bribing Public Official at @USAGM

 

Via DOJ:

A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia returned an indictment charging a North Carolina man with engaging in a bribery and fraud scheme with a former contracting officer for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) (now known as the U.S. Agency for Global Media).

According to court documents, William F. Snow, 70, of Jamestown, worked for a government contracting firm that previously provided professional staffing services to BBG. Between late 2014 and late 2016, Snow, in addition to a BBG contracting officer and others, allegedly agreed to hire and pay the contracting officer’s relative for a job involving minimal work and which resulted in payments to the relative that totaled more than $68,000. In exchange, the BBG contracting officer took official actions that benefitted Snow, the contracting firm, and another executive, Rita Starliper, who previously pleaded guilty for her involvement in the scheme. In particular, the contracting officer took official action and provided preferential treatment that included the awarding of a professional staffing contract to the contracting firm that was worth millions of dollars and the steering of the procurement process to benefit Snow, Starliper, and the contracting firm.

Snow is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services mail fraud, one count of bribery, and three counts of honest services mail fraud. The defendant will make his initial court appearance on Dec. 28. If convicted, Snow faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services mail fraud, fifteen years in prison for bribery, and twenty years in prison for each count of honest services mail fraud. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Jessica D. Aber of the Eastern District of Virginia; Special Agent in Charge Elisabeth Kaminsky of the Office of Inspector General for the Department of State; and Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

The Office of Inspector General for the Department of State and the FBI are investigating the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Heidi Boutros Gesch of the Eastern District of Virginia and Senior Litigation Counsel Edward P. Sullivan, and Trial Attorney Jordan Dickson of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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Ex-@StateDept Employee Gets 12 Months, 1 Day in Prison For $156,950 Wire Fraud in Haiti

 

Via USDOJ:
Former State Department Employee Sentenced to Federal Prison for Embezzling more than $150,000 from Department of Defense

Charleston, South Carolina — Acting United States Attorney M. Rhett DeHart announced today that Roudy Pierre-Louis, 49, a citizen of Haiti and former State Department employee, was sentenced to more than a year in federal prison after pleading guilty to committing Wire Fraud.

Evidence presented to the court showed that from 2015 through August 2018, Pierre-Louis was an employee of the State Department who worked at the Embassy of Haiti as the sole budget analyst for the Security Coordination Office (SCO). In this role, Pierre-Louis was responsible for managing all lines of accounting for the State Department and Department of Defense (DoD) associated with the SCO, which included per diem cash advances for individuals travelling to United States Southern Command events. Pierre-Louis also was designated as the SCO’s Occasional Money Holder, allowing him to receive cash on behalf of other individuals who did not have full access to the Embassy in order to obtain cash advances for travel expenses, including, but not limited to, per diem, lodging, and air fare.

The Embassy maintained a vault, or “cash cage,” from which cash advances could be disbursed to employees providing documentation of supervisory approval. This cash cage was reconciled on a daily basis, as cash on hand along with approved disbursements were required to be reconciled and approved by a financial officer with the State Department in order to balance and replenish the cash supply.

Beginning in 2015 and continuing through at least August 2018, Pierre-Louis submitted fraudulent vouchers and supporting documents for cash advances in the names of Haitian Nationals that contained forged signatures of requesting and approving DoD supervisors.

Unaware of this fraud, the Department of State released these cash funds to Pierre-Louis, which were subsequently reimbursed by the Department of Defense. During the relevant time period, from 2015 to August 2018, Pierre-Louis embezzled at least $156,950 from his wire fraud scheme.

United States District Judge Richard M. Gergel sentenced Pierre-Louis to 12 months and one day in federal prison, to be followed by a three-year term of court-ordered supervision, and ordered that Pierre-Louis pay full restitution in this case. There is no parole in the federal system.

The case was investigated by the State Department Office of Inspector General’s Charleston, South Carolina Field Office, and the Major Procurement Fraud Unit of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.

Assistant United States Attorney Allessandra Stewart prosecuted the case.

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State/OIG Announces Review of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Program

On December 7, 2021, an un-dated announcement tweeted by @StateOIG indicates that the Office of the Inspector General for the State Department is initiating a review of the Afghan SIV Program:
The Office of Inspector General (OIG), Office of Audits, is initiating a review of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Program. The primary objectives of the review are to assess and describe (1) the number of SIV applications received and processed and their processing times; (2) the adjustments made to processing SIV applications between 2018 and 2021; (3) the status and resolution of recommendations made by the Department of State Office of Inspector General in its reports Quarterly Reporting on Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program Needs Improvement (AUD-MERO-20-34, June 2020) and Review of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program (AUD-MERO-20-35, June 2020); (4) the status of SIV recipients; and (5) the totality of OIG reporting on the SIV Program in a capping report.
The review will be conducted at the Bureaus of Consular Affairs; Near Eastern Affairs; Population, Refugees, and Migration; and South and Central Asian Affairs and at selected domestic facilities and overseas posts including the Afghanistan Affairs Unit in Doha, Qatar. The review will include interviews of appropriate officials, an assessment of pertinent documents, and analyses of data.
The announcement also notes that State/OIG “will be coordinating and deconflicting with other members of the inspector general community to ensure efficiency and to leverage interagency resources in performing this important oversight work.”

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Afghanistan Evacuation: A “Management Failure” Ripe For Review. By the GAO, Please

 

Secretary Blinken has reportedly ordered an internal review of the Afghanistan evacuation.  Who has been tasked to do the review? Wait, he did not ask the Deputy Secretary for Management or the Acting Under Secretary for Management to do it, did he?
Or the OIG? The OIG has seen what the State Department overlords can do to the entity and its personnel. While the overlords are not the same, we doubt that folks can shake that nightmare quickly. The State Department still does not have a Senate confirmed Inspector General. After what the previous administration did to the OIG and Steve Linick, you’d think that the Biden Administration would work quickly to fill that position. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Also if this debacle is causing seasoned employees to consider leaving the Service, you’d want to know, right?
We do think that the GAO should conduct this review; after all, part of its mandate is the evaluation of operations and performance. The GAO undertakes work through congressional requests, so let’s go ahead, let’s write to our favorite reps so GAO can get tasked with looking under the rugs.

Related items:

State/OIG: US Embassy Iceland Focuses on “Rebuilding Staff Morale” Following Pol Ambo’s Tenure

 

State/OIG conducted its inspection of the US Embassy in Iceland from March 15 to June 28, 2021. That’s about three months since Trump’s political ambassador had left post. The report says “Despite several months having elapsed since his departure, OIG found at the time of the inspection that embassy staff were still recovering from what they described as a threatening and intimidating environment created by the former Ambassador.”
Surely, the mothership knew what was happening in Reykjavik from 2019-2021? No? But State/OIG says that the relationship became “so strained at one point during his tenure that the then-Undersecretary for Political Affairs instructed the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR) to work directly with the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure proper management of the bilateral relationship.”
Oh, dear! Is this the same P (and D) who did their song and dance during the IO debacle?
State/OIG did not undertake this inspection until March 2021. We have not been able to find Iceland on its Work Plans for 2019-2020, 2020-2021, or 2021-2022. Previous to this report, we have been able to find one other report on Iceland dated February 2011. Makes one wonder why the OIG only inspected post on March 2021 and not earlier. We should add that posts are typically inspected once every five years, although that five year gap doesn’t seem to be happening anywhere anymore.
The thing though– State/OIG only inspects a small portion of overseas posts every year. We know this post is not a unique case but for posts not inspected earlier this year, whatever happened in the previous 2-3 years will be stale bread except in government corridors and nightmares.
At the time of the inspection, Embassy Reykjavik’s authorized staff included 16 U.S. direct hire staff (including 3 who worked for DOD), 55 locally employed (LE) staff, and 1 eligible family member.
Via State/OIG:

(U) The Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim (Chargé), a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, arrived at Embassy Reykjavik for a temporary duty assignment on January 24, 2021, 4 days after the departure of the former Ambassador. Previously, the Chargé served as Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) at the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe from 2017 to 2020, serving as Chargé and acting Representative for the first 2 years. His career also included tours of duty as the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Department and Director of the Department’s Operations Center.
[…]
(U) Embassy Leadership Focused on Rebuilding Staff Morale and Normalizing Embassy Operations

(U) OIG found that the Chargé and DCM were focused on rebuilding staff morale and normalizing embassy operations following the former Ambassador’s tenure, a noncareer appointee who served from June 2019 to January 2021. Despite several months having elapsed since his departure, OIG found at the time of the inspection that embassy staff were still recovering from what they described as a threatening and intimidating environment created by the former Ambassador. For example, staff reported to OIG multiple instances in which the former Ambassador had threatened to sue Department officials and embassy staff who expressed disagreement with him, questioned his wishes, or were perceived to be “disloyal” to him. In addition, many employees reported to OIG that the former Ambassador threatened reprisal against employees who communicated with Department officials in Washington while conducting their official duties.

(U) During the inspection, OIG found that the Chargé and DCM were modeling leadership and management principles in 3 Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) 1214 to establish a positive, inclusive, and supportive tone for the embassy. In interviews and questionnaires, embassy staff consistently noted the positive and supportive work environment the Chargé and the DCM fostered, following the departure of the former Ambassador. Staff cited the leadership team’s care and support for both U.S. direct-hire and LE staff, their open and inclusive approach, and empowerment of and trust in staff members to do their jobs, consistent with 3 FAM 1214b. For example, the Chargé held a town hall on his first day emphasizing a return to normal operations. In addition, the DCM contacted the Regional Medical Officer/Psychologist, based in London, to help assess morale and develop actions to address employee concerns. 4

(U) Execution of Foreign Policy Goals and Objectives (U) At the time of the inspection, OIG found the embassy was focused on rebuilding its relationship with the Government of Iceland following a deterioration of that relationship under the former Ambassador, which became so strained at one point during his tenure that the then-Undersecretary for Political Affairs instructed the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR) to work directly with the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure proper management of the bilateral relationship. This action attempted to mitigate the negative impact of the former Ambassador’s frequent failure to respect diplomatic protocol or to coordinate with the Icelandic Government on policy initiatives and press statements touching on sensitive defense-related subjects. For example, the former Ambassador’s post on the embassy’s Facebook page indicated that the United States was investing more than $170 million on various projects and programs in Iceland, as part of a long-term plan to strengthen U.S.-Icelandic cooperation. This and other uncoordinated statements by the former Ambassador generated public controversy in Iceland.

(U) Upon his arrival in January 2021, the Chargé met with senior government officials to improve the diplomatic engagement between the embassy and the Icelandic Government, consistent with his responsibilities under 3 FAM 1427 and 2 FAM 111.1-2 to promote cordial relations with the host country. OIG noted that the public statements issued by senior Icelandic Government officials, both when the Chargé arrived and following his introductory meetings with senior government officials, reflected the host government’s appreciation for the restoration of respect for diplomatic protocol and procedure in the embassy’s conduct of the bilateral relationship.
[…]
(U) Local Compensation Plan Did Not Comply With Icelandic Labor Law (U) The embassy’s local compensation plan21 did not fully reflect Icelandic prevailing wage rates and compensation practices, as required by 3 FAM 7512.3. Specifically, the local compensation plan did not follow the collective bargaining agreement22 applicable to Icelandic employees regarding the standard work week, annual leave, the transfer of leave rights between employers, and standby shift rates. In addition, OIG found that the embassy had not provided annual increases in the summer and winter and salary supplements since 2009 despite these benefits being required by the collective bargaining agreement. Standards in 3 FAH-2 H131.3a(1) require embassies to implement a local compensation plan and review it at least annually. OIG found the embassy told the Bureau of Global Talent Management’s Office of Overseas Employment (GTM/OE) of its concerns with the local compensation plan in its 2019 Local Compensation Questionnaire submission.23
[…]
(U) Embassy Did Not Conduct Seismic Evaluations for Leased Residences (U) Embassy Reykjavik did not conduct seismic safety assessments for 11 of its 15 leased residential units, as required by Department standards. The Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) lists Iceland in zone 4, which is considered a very high seismic zone. In 2018, OBO performed a seismic assessment of the embassy’s residences. This report was delivered to Embassy Reykjavik in November 2020. The embassy has since replaced 11 residences, none of which have been assessed by an OBO-approved structural engineer, as required in 15 FAM 252.6f. According to embassy staff, the embassy did not take immediate action in November 2020 due to other priorities assigned by the former Ambassador. The embassy liaised with OBO on establishing a local contract for seismic assessments but had not completed the work by the end of the inspection. Leasing properties without performing seismic safety assessments poses significant risk to the life and safety of occupants.

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Septuagenarian and Co-Conspirators Trick @StateDept and a Non-Profit in $575K Fraud Scheme

 

 

Via State/OIG:
In October 2021, Wanda Baker pled guilty to engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity, approximately 1 month after co-conspirator Olayinka Agboola plead guilty to the same charge. Sentencing is pending. A year earlier (October 2020), Barker, Agboola, and Linda Johnson were indicted for using a business email compromise scheme to defraud the Department. OIG and FBI special agents determined the individuals tricked the Department and a non-profit agency into wiring at least $575,000 into bank accounts they controlled for the purpose of enriching themselves and their co-conspirators.

U.S. vs. Johnson et al.

A second indictment related to BEC fraud charges Linda Dianne Johnson, 70, of Charlotte, Wanda Jackson Barker, 71, of Athens, Texas, and Olayinka Agboola, 54, of Chicago, Illinois, with conspiracy to commit money laundering. Johnson is also charged with two counts of conducting financial transactions with illegal proceeds.

The indictment was returned on September 16, 2020, and was unsealed earlier this week. According to allegations in the indictment, Johnson, Barker, and Agboola operated as money mules and conspired to launder at least $575,000 derived from a fraudulent BEC scheme. The indictment alleges that the co-conspirators tricked the United States Department of State and a non-profit agency into wiring proceeds into bank accounts controlled by Johnson. Upon receipt of the fraud proceeds, Johnson, Barker, and Agboola executed financial transactions for the purpose of enriching themselves and their co-conspirators.

Johnson is set to appear in court in Charlotte on October 22, 2020. Barker’s initial appearance has been set for November 9, 2020. Agboola has not been arrested yet.

The money laundering conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. Johnson faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each charge of conducting financial transactions with illegal proceeds.

The charges in the indictments are allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney Murray thanked the investigating efforts of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the FBI, and U.S. Department of State, Office of the Inspector General, which led to the indictments.

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@StateDept Updates Guidance For Recovery and Seizure of Passports 3 Years After OIG Review

 

 

In October 2018, State/OIG issued a Review of Allegations of Improper Passport Seizures at Embassy Sana’a, Yemen. The report indicates that the “Department did not follow relevant standards” and that ” officials did not comply fully with required procedures.”  OIG said that “Department also failed to comply with relevant standards when it ultimately revoked the passports in all but one of the cases OIG examined:

The Department does not have a central system to track passport confiscations or retentions. As a result, OIG could not determine the number of passport seizures that occurred at Embassy Sana’a from 2012 to 2014, and the total number remains uncertain. However, because one document provided by the Department contained a list of 31 names with dates on which the passports were taken, OIG focused on these cases.

There are two bases in Department regulations that govern its authority to take passports from U.S. citizens: “retention” and “confiscation.” Regardless of the authority by which the Department took the passports at issue here, the Department did not follow relevant standards. If the Department “retained” the passports, officials did not comply fully with required procedures. Furthermore, although the Department acknowledged that retentions are temporary measures, it held many of the passports in question for months (and in some cases, over a year), suggesting that the Department effectively confiscated these documents. Confiscation is permitted only after revocation or pursuant to an arrest. Revocation is the formal process by which the Department invalidates an individual’s passport. Neither an arrest nor revocation occurred before any of the passports were taken.

The Department also failed to comply with relevant standards when it ultimately revoked the passports in all but one of the cases OIG examined. Although the Department must notify the holders in writing of the reason for revocation and their right to appeal, OIG could not confirm that these notices were sent in every case. Even if notices were sent, the affected individuals remained uninformed about the status of their passports for lengthy periods (in one case, almost 2 years). OIG also identified instances where individuals contacted the Department with questions and received limited information or no response at all.

OIG also identified other concerns. First, the lack of a single legal authority within the Department led to significant difficulties in resolving key legal issues. Second, although the Department has updated its policies, issues remain unresolved, including conflicting interpretations of the Department’s authority to seize passports and uncertainty regarding eligibility for limited validity passports.

On October 20, 2021 — that’s right, three years later this month — the State Department/Diplomatic Security finally updated 12 FAM 220 of the Foreign Affairs Manual on the  recovery and seizure of U.S. passports. The notation on the change transmittal says “Updated as a result of the Office of the Inspector General report on Yemen Passport Seizures”.  The bold parts are highlighted in the FAM.

12 FAM 224.1-5  Recovery and Seizure of Passports
(CT:DS-368;   10-20-2021)
a. 22 CFR 51.7 (a) states that a passport at all times remains the property of the United States and must be returned to the U.S. Government upon demand.
b. CA/FPP or CA/PPT may request DS confiscate a passport that CA/PPT issued.  See 12 FAH-4 H-124.2.  The Department’s authorized representative (usually the case agent) is authorized to confiscate a revoked passport.  If the bearer refuses to do so, CA/PPT may invalidate the passport by notifying the bearer in writing of the invalidation (22 CFR 51.4).4
c.  Only CA/PPT/S/A may revoke U.S. passports.  DS agents may lawfully seize a U.S. passport pursuant to:
(1)  A search warrant;
(2)  An arrest warrant;
(3)  A lawful, warrantless seizure pursuant to a warrant exception when robable cause exists that the U.S. passport itself is evidence of a crime;
(4)  The express consent of the subject; or
(5)  A court order.
If CA intends to revoke the passport of a subject of a DS investigation, and DS has presented the case to DOJ for prosecution, the DS special agent must inform the prosecutor about the passport revocation.
d. All property acquired by DS will be collected and treated as though it were evidence to ensure proper handling until such determination is made.  Special agents may only acquire property in accordance with the law as it relates to searches and seizures, judicial forfeiture, and by voluntary delivery by the owner.  Occasionally, items may be seized or taken into custody for safekeeping (i.e., high value items, illegal drugs, firearms and weapons, etc.).  Special agents are not authorized to acquire property in any other manner other than by direction of CA to recover U.S. passports.
e. The procedural aspects of passport seizure by a DS special agent are contained in 12 FAH-4 H-120. That section contains important information as well as relevant timelines for notification to the Department of the seizure.
f.  For more information on passport revocations, see 8 FAM 804, Revocation.
g. DS may receive recovered U.S. passports from different sources, such as local law enforcement, local governments, airlines, and transportation centers.  To maintain the integrity of the U.S. passport as a secure travel document, CA/PPT makes every effort to account for the final disposition of all U.S. passports.  Therefore, DS should mail all found or recovered (not seized or confiscated) U.S. passports to CA/PPT at …

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Related item:

12 FAM 220 Investigations

Related posts:

 

USDOJ: FL Executives Plead Guilty to Large-Scale Visa Fraud Employment Scheme

 

Via USDOJ:

Two Florida business executives pleaded guilty today in the Southern District of Georgia to charges related to their roles in a scheme to recruit and hire foreign nationals who were not authorized to work in the United States to fill temporary housekeeping and food service positions and commit various other criminal immigration offenses for profit.

According to court documents, Educational World Inc. (Ed World), a visa processing company based in North Point; and Larisa Khariton, 73, and Jon Clark, 71, also of North Point, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Georgia on April 8. The 36-count indictment also contained allegations against Regal Hospitality Solutions LLC (RHS), a Louisiana-based staffing company, and seven current and former RHS employees. Each defendant was charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud and commit offenses against the United States, including encouraging and inducing an alien to reside in the United States, as well as alien harboring, alien transporting, and visa fraud. In addition, the RHS defendants were charged with wire-fraud related offenses.

Khariton and Clark pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to defraud and commit offenses against the United States.

According to the indictment and other court documents, the individual defendants enriched themselves by participating in a scheme to recruit and hire noncitizen laborers without authorization to work for RHS. RHS provided hospitality-related businesses with laborers to work in housekeeping, retail, and food service positions, using noncitizens who were unauthorized to work in the United States to fill the positions. In some cases, the RHS defendants arranged for and provided housing and transportation to the workers.

The defendants and other co-conspirators also encouraged and induced noncitizen laborers on expiring and expired J-1 exchange visitor visas to obtain B-2 tourist visas and to work in the United States for RHS, knowing that employing such laborers on B-2 visas was illegal. According to admissions made in connection with their guilty pleas, Khariton and Clark prepared and submitted applications for B-2 visas on behalf of the workers after charging noncitizen laborers approximately $650 per application. The application contained false and misleading statements indicating the noncitizens intended to obtain the B-2 visa for the purpose of engaging in tourism. In fact, Khariton and Clark knew that those noncitizens were already present in and intended to stay in the United States for employment, not tourism.

The indictment also alleges that Khariton and Clark submitted petitions for H-2B temporary work visas on behalf of defendant RHS that contained false and misleading information about the location where noncitizen laborers allegedly were to be employed. In connection with their guilty pleas, Khariton and Clark admitted that they engaged in deceitful and dishonest conduct to impede and obstruct the functioning of, among other things, the H-2 non-immigrant visa program. Khariton and Clark also admitted that they were paid a commission by RHS for noncitizens Ed World recruited to work for RHS, including those who were not authorized to work for RHS in the United States.

Khariton and Clark will be sentenced at a later date. Khariton and Clark face a statutory maximum penalty of five years in prison; A federal district court judge will determine the sentences after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Charges remain pending against defendant RHS and the individual RHS defendants who are considered innocent unless and until found guilty

The U.S. Department of State Office of Inspector General is investigating the case with assistance provided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Trial Attorneys Frank Rangoussis and John-Alex Romano of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Lee of the Southern District of Georgia are prosecuting the case.

 

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