WASHINGTON – A Treasury Department agency that enforces economic sanctions against countries such as Cuba and plays a key role in efforts to catch terrorist financiers, drug dealers and money launderers, has a new director.
OFAC's previous chief, Robert Werner, left earlier this year to take the helm of another Treasury agency that is involved in efforts to nab financial criminals.
Szubin has been with the department for two years and has served as a senior adviser to Stuart Levey, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. Both Levey and Szubin were at the Justice Department before they moved to Treasury.
As an adviser to Levey, Szubin helped to develop and coordinate the implementation of policies on a range of issues, including terrorist financing, money laundering, sanctions programs, and efforts to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction, the department said.
"As the new director of OFAC, I believe that Adam will continue to strengthen the office's efforts to protect the national and economic security of the United States," Levey said.
The naming of the new OFAC director follows revelations that the department — shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks — began secretly tracking the finances of suspected terrorists by gaining access to a massive international data base of financial records.
The once-secret program came to light after media reports in late June.
The revelation stirred some concern among privacy advocates as well as some Democrats and Republican lawmakers — who oversee financial matters — on Capitol Hill because they were not briefed early on about the program's existence. The disclosure angered President Bush and administration officials who asserted that it could hobble their efforts to shut down avenues for terrorist fundraising.
Paulson, who took the Treasury helm on July 10, has told lawmakers that he will look into the program.