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>> America's Central Bank quietly acting as a tool of US foreign intelligence. I'm Jonathan Spicer, Reuters correspondent, here at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where there's not just economists inside crunching numbers. It's also home to a little known operation, basically a banker to the world, where some 200 of the world's Central Banks keep more than $3 trillion of their assets.
Interviews with more than a dozen former and current Treasury and Federal Reserve officials, shows that unit from time to time is tapped by the US government to monitor international sanctions. And in their efforts to combat money laundering and anti-terror financing, as well as a window into market hot spots around the world.
The New York Fed leaves the door explicitly open to the Treasury Department and other government agencies that have a need to know information in these accounts. And that need to know is determined on a case by case basis by lawyers and others here at the New York Fed.
Now, it's rare that the New York Fed would open the door to these accounts in this very confidential manner, but sources outlined at least seven instances in the last 15 years in which this happened. Now I talked to several former foreign central bankers, they were unaware of the extent of surveillance here at the Federal Reserve.
But they were not surprised that the US government would leverage the Fed's central power and influence in global finance for this type of unique view on the world. Now this revelation comes at a time that intelligence gathering in general in the United States is under scrutiny, as agencies conduct investigations into Russian meddling in last year's election.