Q & A with Steve Linick: A One-on-One Interview with the Inspector General for the Federal Housing Finance Agency
Stowe, Robert, Mortgage Banking
Steve A. Linick has led the Office of Inspector General (OIG) in the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) since his Senate confirmation in 2010. As inspector general, he is responsible for audits, evaluations, investigations and other law-enforcement efforts to combat fraud, waste and abuse within or affecting the programs and operations of FHFA. The IG's oversight includes FHFA's regulation of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks. * Linick is also a member of the president's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force and the Investigations Committee of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE). Within the committee, he serves as the vice chairman of the committee's Suspension and Debarment Working Group. He is also a permanent member of the Council of Inspectors General on Financial Oversight.
Linick, an attorney, previously served in several leadership positions in the Department of Justice (DOJ). From 2006 to 2010, he served in dual roles as executive director of the department's National Procurement Fraud Task Force and deputy chief of its Fraud Section, Criminal Division. As deputy chief, he managed and supervised the investigation and prosecution of white-collar criminal cases involving procurement fraud, public corruption, investment fraud, telemarketing fraud, mortgage fraud, corporate fraud and money laundering, among other cases.
Linick was the front-line official at DOJ for contract fraud cases relating to the U.S. wars and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan. In October 2008, he received the Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service for leading DOJ's procurement fraud initiative. Previously he was an assistant United States attorney, first in the Central District of California (1994-1999) and subsequently in the Eastern District of Virginia (1999-2006).
Linick received his bachelor's (1985) and master's (1990) degrees in philosophy from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and his juris doctorate (1990) from the Georgetown University Law Center.
Mortgage Banking recently caught up with Linick at his office in Washington to discuss his work as IG.
Q: How does your background prepare you for the job of Federal Housing Finance Agency Inspector General?
A: I spent most of my career as a federal prosecutor at the Department of Justice. I learned how to investigate, uncover and remedy fraud, waste and abuse involving businesses and government, which is what I do as an [inspector general for the FHFA].
Also, as a prosecutor, you're taught to follow the facts wherever they lead, to be ethical, fair, objective--these are the same kind of skill sets that are necessary and critical to being an effective IG. Also, through the years I've investigated and prosecuted mortgage fraud cases. My background is primarily in the area of the white-collar criminal. I've come to learn the schemes, how they are committed and so forth. And obviously a big piece of what we do is to investigate mortgage fraud affecting Fannie and Freddie and the Federal Home Loan Banks.
Q: Who interviewed you when you applied for the job?
A: I met with a lot of individuals. It's a lengthy process and it included members of the IG community. I interviewed with the director of the agency at the time, who was Jim Lockhart, and I spoke with individuals at the White House and members of Congress.
Q: What made you decide to take the position?
A: I have spent most of my career in public service. I'm a big believer in public service. I took this job with the idea that it would be a challenging and unique opportunity for me to make a difference. We're in the midst of a housing crisis right now, obviously of historic proportions. A lot of people are suffering from the crisis and will continue to suffer, and Fannie and Freddie and the home loan banks continue to be key players in the housing market. …