Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program
The Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) is an independent U.S. financial law enforcement agency mandated to conduct audits and investigations of the purchase, management and sale of assets under the Troubled Asset Relief Program ("TARP"). The agency was established by the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.
SIGTARP's goal is to promote economic stability by assiduously protecting the interests of those who fund the TARP programs - i.e., the American taxpayers. This is achieved by facilitating transparency in TARP programs, providing effective oversight in coordination with other relevant oversight bodies, and through robust criminal and civil enforcement against those, whether inside or outside of the U.S. government, who waste, steal or abuse TARP funds.
The agency is currently engaged in 142 ongoing criminal and civil investigations, and it has already recovered assets worth $151.8 million.
As of March 2011, SIGTARP it employs 45 financial fraud investigators who are empowered to carry guns and badges, and 27 vehicles with sirens and lights spread out in its branch offices across the country. SIGTARP agents are empowered to make arrests. While in the field, these armed law enforcement officers wear the familiar oversized blue "raid jackets" with yellow lettering on the back that reads: "Federal Agent SIGTARP."
By the summer of 2010, SIGTARP agents were participating in raids alongside other U.S. law enforcement agencies. They worked with FBI agents in a raid on Colonial Bank in Orlando, Florida in an investigation into possible TARP-related fraud.
The agency will be phased out of existence once all U.S. taxpayer dollars under TARP have been repaid; however, that is likely to take years.
With the responsibility of monitoring, auditing and investigating the activities of the U.S. Treasury in the administration of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the Special Inspector General for TARP reports findings to the U.S. Congress every quarter.