Treasury Taps Sanctions Architect to Lead Financial Crimes Team

The Treasury Department said on Thursday that Andrea Gacki, an architect of the Biden administration’s sanctions program, would become the director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in September.

Her appointment is expected to bolster an agency that is central to the U.S. government’s efforts to crack down on money laundering and sanctions evasion, particularly given the number of new penalties imposed in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The United States has led an ambitious international campaign to punish Russia for its war in Ukraine, instituting curbs on everything from Russia’s access to software updates to its ability to participate in the global financial system. That has led to a vast effort by Russia to evade sanctions using shell companies, foreign exchange transactions and other complex financial maneuvers that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known as FinCEN, is trying to stop.

Ms. Gacki is currently the director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, a unit within the Treasury Department where she has designed and imposed sanctions on countries such as Iran, North Korea and, most recently, Russia. In her new role at FinCEN, she will be leading another division within the Treasury that is responsible for cracking down on money laundering, cybercrime and sanctions evasion.

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen described Ms. Gacki as “an unparalleled fighter against the scourge of illicit finance” and said that her deep policy knowledge and global relationships made her the right choice for the job.

“She expertly deploys Treasury’s financial tools, from financial sanctions to industry guidance and enforcement actions, to hold accountable those who threaten our national security and the international financial system,” Ms. Yellen said in a statement.

Ms. Gacki will replace Himamauli Das, who has been leading FinCEN in an temporary capacity. Her deputy at the Office of Foreign Assets Control, Bradley Smith, will become its next director.

A career civil servant, Ms. Gacki has served in the Bush, Obama, Trump and Biden administrations, working both in the Justice and Treasury Departments. She joined the sanctions office in 2008 and has been its director since 2018.

Sigal Mandelker, who was Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence during the Trump administration, promoted Ms. Gacki to be director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control. Ms. Mandelker said that Ms. Gacki understands the federal government’s interagency process and works well with the private sector, making it likely that the transition between the two Treasury Department bureaus will be smooth.

Ms. Gacki has emerged as an important player on the Biden administration’s national security team. In late 2021, as the U.S. learned of Russian troop buildups near the border with Ukraine, she was sent to European capitals to begin devising plans for the coordinated sanctions effort.

At FinCEN, Ms. Gacki will be taking over an team whose responsibilities are growing as companies that operate in the United States face more reporting requirements about their ownership structures and as emerging technologies such as cryptocurrency have made money laundering and illicit financial activities more prevalent. FinCEN also works with the multilateral Russian Elites, Proxies and Oligarchs Task Force to track suspicious transactions by wealthy Russians involving real estate, luxury goods and other valuable assets.

“We think that putting Andrea at FinCEN will mean that she’s able to bring the creativity that she’s used at O.F.A.C. to help us prevent evasion as we move into a phase where our goal will be to try and continue to prevent Russia from getting access to the resources they need to fight their unjustifiable war in Ukraine,” Wally Adeyemo, the deputy Treasury secretary, said in an interview.


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