Jayesh D’Souza ’09 is an expert when it comes to the topic of how terrorists finance their operations. At FIU the Toronto native pursued a doctorate in public administration, working closely with his academic advisor, Howard Frank from the Department of Public Administration, and with John Zdanowicz, a professor in the College of Business Administration and an expert on the subject of financial crime committed through international trade.
That collaboration fueled D’Souza’s interest in financial counterterrorism, which led to the writing and publication of his first book on financial crime, 2011’s Terrorist Financing, Money Laundering, and Tax Evasion: Examining the Performance of Financial Intelligence Units.
We asked D’Souza to tells us more about the subject, for the uninitiated among us.
What is financial crime?
Financial crime, in my book, is terrorist financing and related money laundering and tax evasion. While terrorist activity is often financed through funds raised by legal means, there are instances when it is not. There have been a number of cases where terrorists have used laundered funds from the sale of drugs, for example, to finance terrorism. Since taxes are not paid on these illegal means of financing terrorism, tax evasion also constitutes financial crime.
How did you become interested in this topic?
After a spate of terrorist attacks early this century, anti-terrorism laws were strengthened. There was a large-scale infusion of government funds to prevent terrorism. But there were never any studies undertaken to see if government bureaus were performing to the extent of justifying this investment. All the focus was on legislation like the U.S. Patriot Act. So, I decided to case-study financial intelligence units, which are specialized government bureaus dedicated to containing and stopping financial crime.
You have a Ph.D. from FIU. Tell us a little bit about your academic background.
I have a bachelor’s in business administration from Iona College, New York, a master’s in business administration from Barry University and a master’s specialization in economics from York University in Toronto. Prior to coming to FIU, I was a policy analyst for the Government of Ontario in Canada.
The book’s description mentions conflicts in the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and even the United States as locations where these conflicts have led to modern terrorism. How can a layman reader understand what you discuss?
I elaborate on the sources of terrorist financing and how funds are transferred from where they are raised to terrorist networks that carry out the attacks, so I provide interesting examples to help readers understand that process. The thrust of the book is how government bureaus responsible for countering financial crime can make changes to their administrative apparatus to perform at a higher level. I studied how government bureaus currently operate in tackling financial crime and recommend changes that will possibly help them achieve a higher rate of success. I explore issues such as how they can invest their resources, both human and financial, better, how they can streamline their workflow to see better results, and how they can strengthen relationships with stakeholders to satisfy them more.
What are, then, the best ways for governments to prevent these illegal practices?
The book is based on the opinion of experts in financial crime. I interviewed approximately 30 experts that included practitioners, academicians, management consultants, financial institution personnel, government attorneys, and law enforcement and intelligence agency personnel. I surveyed several more. The most important revelation is government bureaus must stop basing their success in preventing financial crime on the number of suspicious reports that are filed with them but rather on the outcome of their preventive actions, such as the number of financial criminals convicted and the amount of dirty money interdicted.