The U.S. Department of Justice's Federal Bureau of Investigation issued the text of the following speech and remarks by Grant D. Ashley, Executive Assistant Director, Law Enforcement Services, Federal Bureau of Investigation, during the Institute of Internal Auditors Fraud Seminar:
It is great to be here with you today. As a kid, I never imagined I could one day be excited about attending an Internal Audit Conference, but here I am. I am truly happy to be here, and happy to be back in Chicago.
Early in my career as an FBI agent, I was assigned to the Chicago Field Office, and worked on the first violent crimes task force in the country. It was a dream come true for me to work side-by-side with other agents and state and local police, investigating kidnappings, extortion, murder-for-hire ... you name it.
To be honest - though I'm not sure it's safe to say this in this crowd - I never actually planned to become an accountant. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be an FBI agent. When I was about 17, I called an FBI recruiter to ask if I could come to work for the Bureau. He asked me how old I was, laughed, and then told me to go to college and get an accounting degree so I would have a better chance of becoming a special agent.
That's exactly what I did - a little reluctantly, I'll admit. I wanted to be out catching bad guys, not sitting behind a desk. I wanted to be protecting and serving the American public, not crunching numbers. I wanted to be the stuff of heroes, and I didn't quite see what accounting had to do with it.
But I sat for the CPA exam and went to work as an accountant. And by the time I got the call from the FBI, and traded in my calculator for my badge and gun, I saw exactly what accounting had to do with it. I understood that accountants are every bit as critical to protecting and serving the public as law enforcement officers. Though our roles are different, we are both concerned with protecting the health of our economy and the safety of our citizens.
Today, I want to give you a "30,000-foot overview" of the financial crime and public corruption threats we are facing, and tell you what the FBI is doing to protect the American public and how you are integral to our success.
To give you a bit of history, the FBI was created in 1908 in order to address criminal activity that had begun crossing state lines. From combating gangsters to investigating Nazi spies to fighting organized crime, the FBI has built its reputation on successfully investigating crime and bringing criminals to justice.
Then came September 11, 2001. Overnight, the world changed. And so did the FBI. Our No. 1 priority is now counterterrorism, followed by counterintelligence and cyber - all under the umbrella of national security. But this heightened national security mission has not replaced our criminal mission. We are still upholding our criminal responsibilities in addition to preventing terrorism and protecting national security.
Combating crime, fraud, and public corruption are still among our top priorities. In fact, we have more agents working financial crimes and public corruption today than we did before the September 11 attacks. Currently, we have nearly 2,000 agents working white collar crime cases and over 500 working public corruption matters.