SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Two Puerto Rican senior financial executives were recognized by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with the Honoring and Recognizing Private Industry for Excellence Program (HARPE) award in a ceremony held Thursday during the ninth Puerto Rican anti-money laundering symposium at the Pedro Rosselló Convention Center in San Juan.
HSI Assistant Director of Investigative Programs Leigh Winchell presented the awards to Arturo Carrion, executive vice-president of the Puerto Rico Bankers Association (PRBA), and Juan de La Cruz, president of the Puerto Rico Financial Fraud Task Force.
Carrion's analysis and understanding of the economy of Puerto Rico and the role of the financial sector has helped shape the economy of Puerto Rico today. His representation of the commercial bankers in Puerto Rico in governmental, legislative and executive forums through the PRPA has had a secondary effect; he has opened the lines of communication between the financial sector and HSI, contributing intelligence and practical support to HSI's investigative activities within the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
The other award recipient, de La Cruz, has more than 34 years of experience in the security sector, which has given him the tools to provide the hands-on management of the civilian, private sector side as president of the Puerto Rico Financial Fraud Task Force. He has been a pillar in the direction and execution of operations that provide necessary, vital information and support to ongoing federal and commonwealth government investigations, directed against criminal organizations operating within and through the island of Puerto Rico.
As a result of the outstanding partnership of HSI with the PRBA and their financial fraud task force, thanks in part to the collaboration and support offered by Carrion and de La Cruz, HSI has produced measurable results in criminal investigations against organizations dedicated to a gamut of financial crimes ranging from bank and mortgage fraud to ATM card cloning, bank robbery and the laundering of proceeds derived from a wide range of criminal activities. This partnership is accredited for directly assisting HSI in criminal investigations which have netted more than 59 arrests, the confiscation of hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars, firearms and equipment used in the commission of a variety of crimes. At least six criminal organizations have been identified, and through the combined efforts of HSI and the task force, have been disrupted and dismantled.
Not only have Carrion's and de La Cruz's efforts assisted law enforcement, they have contributed to the security of the financial sector. The knowledge gained through the partnership between the private and public sector has served to augment the financial sector's defensive capabilities against present and would-be threats to the various institutions that comprise the financial sector within the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
The HARPE award was established in March 2011 by HSI to recognize extraordinary efforts by private sector individuals who work with HSI to identify systemic vulnerabilities in the banking system, and to help address those vulnerabilities. HSI special agents in charge may nominate individuals who have been instrumental in their investigations. The Platinum Award, presented to Carrion and de La Cruz, consists of a trophy presented by the HSI director or designee. Since the creation of the award, only eight platinum awards have been approved.