Attorney General Steve Marshall is launching an unprecedented effort to tackle white-collar crime in Alabama.

On Wednesday, Marshall and representatives from federal and state law enforcement entities announced the formation of the Economic Crime Alliance of Alabama (ECAA) to fight financial crime and corruption in the state. The group held its first meeting that morning at the attorney general’s office in downtown Montgomery.

The ECAA was originally convened in the early 2000s to provide a statewide support system for the prevention, investigation and prosecution of financial, economic and high-technology crime. However, due to changes in leadership and decreased interaction, the work of the alliance gradually tapered off.

Now, Marshall is bringing the ECAA back in a new-and-improved fashion.

In early January, he reached out to the leadership of each agency that participated in the original group and urged them to recommit to the effort. Plus, the ECAA will now feature federal partners – something the original alliance membership was lacking.

This federal–state partnership signifies a commitment to more information sharing, more communication between agencies and a more comprehensive approach to fighting corruption and financial crime in the Yellowhammer State. Each entity brings its own expertise and resources, which will be pooled together to bring about more efficient and effective investigations and prosecutions of financial crime, as well as greater protection of the public funds and financial resources of the citizens of Alabama.

This kind of collaboration is something Marshall has stressed in his relatively brief tenure in office, with the attorney general’s dedicated efforts routinely receiving praise from federal partners on both the investigative and prosecutorial sides of the law enforcement coin.

“Our existing partnerships with Alabama’s U.S. Attorneys and the Justice Department have been foundational to the progress we are already making in eradicating violent crime,” Marshall outlined in a press release. “If we can work together effectively to confront violent crime, we can and should do the same to confront corruption and financial crime.”

“From day one, Attorney General Marshall has endeavored to mend relationships and restore productive partnerships with his federal counterparts, and we are now seeing the fruits of those efforts,” U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama Louis V. Franklin Sr. said after the meeting. “This is another area of criminal law that requires everyone to work together as a team and we are excited about our increased capacity to prosecute white-collar cases.”

The effort is not just about renewing federal–state relationships, but intrastate working relationships as well.

“I am pleased that the Attorney General has revived the Economic Crime Alliance,” Rachel Riddle of the Alabama Department of Examiners commented. “As Chief Examiner, I have a unique perspective on the significant costs that come with entities from the various levels of government not utilizing each other’s resources and expertise. Unnecessary duplication of efforts and a lack of cohesiveness can lead to severe inefficiencies that in turn do not serve the best interest of the public. I appreciate the Attorney General taking the lead to get us all back on the same page.”

“In today’s highly technical environment, financial crimes can destroy the hopes of Alabamians for a secure retirement, the dreams of young families for a home of their own or education for their children. These crimes have no geographical boundaries and combining resources and working together as an alliance enhances our ability to track down, catch and prosecute criminals within or outside of Alabama,” Joseph Borg, director of the Alabama Securities Commission, added.

During the meeting, Marshall emphasized that he was committed to “tearing down the silos between law enforcement agencies” that hinder the core mission of pursuing justice.

“That’s easier to do when you aren’t worried about who gets the credit,” Marshall explained, “but are focused instead on accomplishing a shared goal. We all acknowledge that, over the years, our offices have missed out on some significant opportunities to work together. We are going to have to sort through how and why we got here, but we all agree that we want it to change. I believe the public will be able to see the difference.”

Members of the Economic Crime Alliance of Alabama include: the Attorney General’s Office, Alabama Department of Examiners, Alabama Department of Insurance, Alabama Department of Labor, Alabama Department of Revenue, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Alabama Securities Commission, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Office of Prosecution Services, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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