IRS picks new Criminal Investigation chief

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The Internal Revenue Service has named James Lee as its new chief of the Criminal Investigation unit, starting Oct. 1.

Lee is currently deputy chief of CI and a 25-year veteran of the organization. He will succeed current IRS CI chief Don Fort, who announced last month he plans to retire on Sept. 30.

“Jim brings a quarter-century of Criminal Investigation management and field experience into this key enforcement role,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig in a statement Monday. “Jim is highly respected throughout the IRS and will continue long-standing working relationships with the civil enforcement functions of the IRS as well as with the Department of Justice’s Tax Division and tax prosecutors throughout the country. He understands the need to support compliant taxpayers by maintaining a strong, robust enforcement effort focused on those who are compliance challenged.”

As chief of the Criminal Investigation division, Lee will lead the IRS’s criminal enforcement efforts to probe violations of the tax laws and related financial crimes, including money laundering, cyber-crimes, identity theft, public corruption, narcotics and terrorist financing.

Before becoming deputy chief of IRS Criminal Investigation, Lee was the director of field operations for the Northern area, where he oversaw CI enforcement programs in the Boston, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Philadelphia field Offices. He also held executive roles as director of field operations for the Southern area and director of strategy.

Lee started his career at IRS Criminal Investigation in 1995 as a special agent in Detroit. He moved into the CI leadership ranks and has tackled positions of increasing responsibility throughout his career including supervisory special agent in the New Orleans field office; headquarters senior analyst in the International and Financial Crimes Sections; assistant special agent in charge within the Boston field office; and special agent in charge of the New Orleans field office and later the Chicago field office.

Fort was named CI chief in June 2017 and will retire after a long career, which started in 1991 as a special agent in CI’s Baltimore district.

“Don has been a remarkable leader and champion for IRS Criminal Investigation,” Rettig said in a statement. “He has a distinguished career and the entire IRS leadership team appreciates everything he has done to uphold the law and support tax administration. We look forward to Don’s remaining time at the IRS as well as Jim taking on a new role and building on the great tradition in CI.”

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