[JURIST] FBI director Robert Mueller [official profile] told [testimony] the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] Wednesday that the rise in financial fraud investigations is limiting the ability of the FBI to fight other crimes. Mueller, speaking during the "Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation" hearing [materials], told Congress that since 2003 public corruption cases have increased more than 58 percent. The effort to fight the drastic increase in cases has required additional resources from within the organization. Mueller said:
These cases are straining the FBI's resources. Indeed, we have had to shift resources from other criminal programs to address the current financial crisis. In Fiscal Year 2007, we had 120 agents investigating mortgage fraud cases. In Fiscal Year 2008, that number increased to 180 agents, and currently over 250 agents are assigned to mortgage fraud and related cases.
The number of cases is not expected to decline. In FY 2009 there have already been 28,873 mortgage fraud Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) filed, which is on pace to nearly double the total in FY 2008. Mueller also discussed new techniques that the FBI is using in order to be as efficient as possible in investigating such crimes. In additional to his comments on economic fraud, Mueller discussed the organization's transformation in recent years, and the organization's effort in preventing violent crimes and terrorism.
As public scrutiny remains high for the entire financial industry, it is not surprising that the government continues to respond with increased measures of prevention. Last month, the FBI announced [JURIST report] that it was looking at shifting a number of agents from national security and counter terrorism activities to investigations involving financial fraud. Other government agencies are also feeling the urgency to respond to the continued alleges of fraud. Last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) [official website] appointed [JURIST report] a new director of enforcement, as the organization deals with the fallout from disgraced Wall Street investor Bernard Madoff [JURIST news archive].