updated 3/8/2004 10:11:23 AM ET 2004-03-08T15:11:23

The Treasury Department is setting up a new office to coordinate efforts to stop the flow of money to terrorists.

The Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence is being established in response to congressional criticism. Last year the General Accounting Office — the investigative arm of Congress — said the government needs to do a better job of tracking the money that terrorists use to bankroll violence.

“The new office will not only focus on the financial war on terror, but protect the integrity of the financial system, fight financial crime, enforce economic sanctions against rogue nations and assist in the ongoing hunt for Iraqi assets,” a department statement said Monday.

The units now at Treasury that are largely responsible for these various duties — including the Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network — will be part of the new office.

The new office is being set up as the result of a congressional directive signed into law by President Bush late last year. An undersecretary, who would be nominated by the president and subject to Senate confirmation, would be in charge of the new office.

Treasury had lost the slot of an undersecretary who oversaw terrorism financing and other enforcement matters in the massive government shuffling that created the new Department of Homeland Security last year. The undersecretary had coordinated various law enforcement activities within the department and worked with other agencies on those issues.

A provision of a broader bill, signed by the president in the middle of December, called for the creation of a new intelligence office in the Treasury Department to improve coordination with intelligence agencies on fighting terrorist financing.

The new office “will enhance the precision of our relentless fight to dismantle the terrorists’ network of financial and logistical support,” said Treasury Secretary John Snow.

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