Roskam wants changes to law used in Hastert case

 
 
Updated 8/24/2017 11:15 AM

During a speech Wednesday to members of several suburban chambers of commerce, U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam pressed for changes to a financial reporting law that ensnared disgraced former House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

The proposed changes would not affect future criminal investigations but would prevent asset seizures by the Internal Revenue Service without proof of actual criminal activity.

 

Hastert, whose conviction on financial crimes turned up decades-old instances of sexual abuse against former students by the ex-Yorkville High School teacher, divided bank withdrawals into amounts less than $10,000 to avoid reporting requirements used to help authorities uncover money laundering schemes.

Hastert, a Plano Republican, was using the money to pay off a former student whom he had sexually abused, authorities alleged in his indictment.

A spokesman for Roskam said the change would not have prevented the investigation of Hastert. Roskam said the IRS shouldn't be able to seize money from those who innocently divide cash deposits or withdrawals into smaller amounts to avoid the additional paperwork required of transactions of $10,000 or more.

He cited the 2012 case of a Maryland farmer who had $60,000 seized by the IRS.

The farmer initially settled with the IRS and received about half back, but attorney Robert Johnson of the Institute for Justice filed a complaint to have all the money returned.

Roskam, an outspoken critic of the IRS and chairman of the House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee, held hearings on the seizure.

Ultimately, the IRS did return the farmer's money, and Johnson said the agency also agreed to send letters to some 700 others who had forfeited assets to the IRS explaining how they could seek reimbursement, too.

However, a bill that would prevent the IRS from seizing future funds without actual evidence of a criminal enterprise failed to pass the Senate after the House approved it.

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