Levey gets AJC award for ‘best job one could possibly have’


Stuart Levey says he has the "best job one could possibly have."

"I spend time leearning about all the things that threaten us," said the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence last night when receiving the American Jewish Committee’s Public Service Award. "Then I get to do stuff very few people ever get to do. I try to do something about it."

Levey did that job so well that the Bush administration appointee has been kept on by the Obama administration to track the dealings of the financial institutions in Iran and other threats, such as Latin American drug cartels. And he explained to those at this week’s AJC Annual Meeting why it is so important.

After Sept. 11, he said, "we have learned that financial intelligence is one of the most reliable forms of intelligence we have." For instance, "we developed a picture of how Iran’s nuclear program is advancing and how Iran funds terrorism" and took that information to both the public and private sector around the world.

Levey said that in the last few years, the key change has been the reaction of the private sector to that information. Even if a company aren’t legally required to cut off transactions with certain financial institutions, they will do so to be "good citizens" — and once the biggest companies make those decisions, the smaller companies follow suit.

"In the end, if we do our jobs right, it’s a mutually reinforcing action" between business and government, he said. And in order to "maximize our chance our diplomatic success," he said, "we need to hold Iran accountable" for its conduct.


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