Virginia will become a major battleground in the Obama administration's attack on national financial fraud cases, federal and state authorities said Friday.
U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride and other officials announced the creation of the Virginia Financial and Securities Fraud Task Force -- a coalition of state and federal agencies, both civil and criminal, to investigate and prosecute white-collar crimes that extend beyond Virginia.
MacBride described the partnership as a "boots-on-the-ground outgrowth" of the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force established by President Barack Obama last November.
"It has become all too clear that the complex financial crimes we confront are national in scope," MacBride said at a news conference. "They require criminal and civil authorities across the country to utilize every tool at their disposal to ensure that the guilty are held accountable."
MacBride said his office is uniquely positioned to handle multistate financial crimes because publicly traded companies file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission in northern Virginia. That gives MacBride's eastern Virginia district authority similar to that exercised by federal prosecutors in New York, the home of Wall Street.
Also, the Federal Reserve in Richmond is one of the primary hubs for wire transfers -- another factor that makes the district the proper venue for pursuing many national financial scams, MacBride said.
The federal agencies participating in the task force are the SEC, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Internal Revenue Service. State partners are the attorney general's office and the State Corporation Commission.
"We are all cops who walk the financial services beat," said Robert Khuzami, director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement. "The neighborhood is challenging. We need to be as well armed as we can."
He said state regulators often are the first to get a whiff of financial malfeasance, so their role will be critical.
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