WASHINGTON - The White House has tapped the Treasury Department's top anti-money-laundering official, David S. Cohen, to take over as deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Cohen, who has served as Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence since July 2011, has been an influential adviser for Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, covering areas like anti-money-laundering measures and cybersecurity.
"David has been a critical member of the Treasury leadership team since he arrived almost six years ago," Lew said in a statement on Friday. "His expertise, in-depth understanding of Treasury's unique financial tools, and creativity have been indispensable to me since I became Secretary, and to Treasury. I am thankful for David's contributions and I am confident that he will continue to play a key role in U.S. government efforts to support our national security and make our country, and our world, safer."
CIA Director John Brennan echoed Lew's sentiment, saying Cohen "brings a wealth of experience on many of the issues that we focus on as an agency and I look forward to his insights, expertise, and energy as we address the growing number and diversity of national security challenges facing America today."
Cohen will take over for Avril Haines, who was named by President Obama as deputy national security adviser in December. Adam Szubin, now serving as director of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, will replace Cohen in an acting capacity until a permanent replacement is nominated, according to the Treasury. Cohen will have to be confirmed again by the Senate before he can assume his new post.
In his time at the Treasury, Cohen was a major figure in developing the agency's anti-money-laundering initiatives. He recently questioned whether "derisking" - banks' cessation of business ties with sectors such as check-cashing operations and payday lending - was really over regulatory pressure.
"A financial institution that refuses to do business with customers that present a risk profile that the institution cannot manage is doing the right thing. That is not 'derisking,' " Cohen said. "So, is 'derisking' actually occurring? The evidence is decidedly mixed."