By: John Berthelsen

The United States government has outsourced a major portion of its global financial crime detection operations through the Justice Department to a Miami-based company called 5 Stones Intelligence with a deep commitment to the Christian community and Israel via a US$625 million, seven-year program, according to the company’s website.

The company, with offices also in New York, Washington, Tel Aviv and London, is named for the five stones selected by the young biblical warrior David to take on the Philistine giant Goliath described in the Book of Samuel. David is said to have brought down Goliath with a perfect shot from his sling. 5 Stones describes itself as “the first and only Judeo-Christian intelligence agency and protective intelligence service in the world.”

David Tinsley, the chief executive officer of the firm, which he formed in 2008 and a retired 32-year special supervisory agent with the Drug Administration, confirmed the details on the website.  He is a money-laundering expert who formerly conducted investigative and intelligence operations for the DEA and the CIA in the Caribbean, Central and South America and other regions.

5 Stones seems to be at the apex of the gig economy. “God blessed our company, I think we’re the best in the world at going after illicit assets,” Tinsley said in a Skype interview. Large numbers of the government’s special law enforcement agents, he said, retire at the end of 30 years’ service in their mid-50s. “The government realized they were losing institutional knowledge and they started contracting where you could get senior experts at a low cost-point. The US government seizes more stolen money than all other countries combined.”

 So far, he said, the company has recovered billions of dollars in laundered money, in exchange for millions of dollars in revenue. 5 Stones competes with the so-called Big Six accounting firms – Deloitte, KPMG, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and others. 5 Stones, he said, played a major role in the World Anti-Doping Agency investigation that resulted in sanctions against Russia for doping in the Olympic Games.

 In the “Our Passion” dropdown on the company’s website, 5 Stones intelligence is said to be “comprised of fiercely loyal, spiritually strong, intellectually driven, operationally experienced, Best-of-Breed, Special Agents, Case Officers, Military Special Operators, Intelligence Analysts, and Detectives, who unashamedly believe in and are committed to God, Jesus Christ, family, Judeo-Christian principles, country, clients, our services, and Israel.”

It claims 200 operatives in 40 countries. Although 5 Stones appears to operate as a kind of bounty hunter, seeking out evidence of money laundering or other financial crimes, then turning over the evidence to government prosecutors for a portion of the proceeds, Tinsley said they aren’t mercenaries.

“I am a Christian and work hard to treat everyone with dignity and fairness,” Tinsley said. “I believe relationship with God surpasses mere religion, as i believe it starts in our heart. We seek to protect all good people from terrorism and related threats.” 

The firm’s website says it is “strategically positioned to provide full-cycle intelligence services: collection, analysis, HUMINT, protective intelligence, operational support, task-specific collection, financial intelligence, money laundering intelligence, due diligence, global investigations, and protective threat matrix programs.” 5 Stones, it says, maintains strategic intelligence networks through corporate partnerships and alliances, government contracts and relationships, foreign counterparts and pre-vetted Fortune 500 businesses.

According to a “company insight” carried on the website, Tinsley said that “As a company and an entity, we focus heavily on the black-market finance that is used to fund and support fundamental terrorist threats.” As a private company, he said, “we’re not required to do other things that might take away from that focus. While the military has to fight a number of battles and problems each day, we don’t.”

Although the Justice Department named 5Si a Prime Contractor for the Asset Forfeiture Investigative Support Services Contract, the firm says it is multidisciplinary, providing “Specialized Financial Investigative Services” to a long list of US government agencies including the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and US attorney’s offices throughout the US.

In the interview, Tinsley said 5 Stones derives about 40 percent of its revenue from investigation of financial wrongdoing.

Research papers carried on the website show a strong bias to operations against Iran and radical fundamentalist Muslim entities, in line with the philosophy of the Trump administration. As Asia Sentinel reported on May 31, the administration is seeking aggressively to stop the flow of illegally gained money from Iran, China and Russia.

Although Tinsley said he isn’t particularly a part of it, with the Trump administration on a rampage against Iran, US authorities are said to have increased markedly the pressure to seek to shut down Iranian funds flowing into Dubai, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar as well as banks in Asia including Woori Bank and Industrial Bank of South Korea, according to Bloomberg News Service, which cited documents and testimony on how Iran siphoned US$1 billion from escrow account funds to evade US-imposed sanctions. Tinsley did say the firm is involved in investigations connected to Iranian sanctions, however.

The problems are exemplified by the notorious FBME Bank, headquartered in Tanzania although at least 90 percent of its business was conducted in Nicosia before it was shut down by the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN last October after a three-year campaign. The bank, owned by Fadi and Ayoub-Farid Saab, was the repository of funds from such notorious characters as Dmitry Klyuev and Andrei Pavolov, key suspects in the looting of Hermitage Capital, once controlled by William Browder before he was driven out of Russia. Dozens of outlaw organizations allegedly banked at FBME, although the Saabs continue to deny any wrongdoing.

FBME was the subject of a 2016 series of stories by Asia Sentinel that described the alleged laundering of millions of US dollars out of the Indonesia-based Bank Mutiara, formerly known as Bank Century, which was looted by its owner, Robert Tantular, and others during the global financial crisis of 2009. Bank Mutiara was taken over by the Tokyo-based J Trust financial conglomerate, heavily backed by Nobuyoshi Fujisawa. J Trust and the Saabs have threatened multiple lawsuits against Asia Sentinel over the stories. Asia Sentinel stands by its stories.