WASHINGTON has recalled several Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) employees stationed across Asian countries amid a probe into their alleged involvement in parties that included interactions with prostitutes.
People familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal on Friday that the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) inspector general is investigating the matter which involved FBI agents stationed in half a dozen countries in East and Southeast Asia.
“Upon learning of these allegations of misconduct, action was taken to reassign certain personnel to non-operational roles while the allegations are reviewed,” the agency said in an email to the WSJ, adding the matter has been referred to the inspector general.
“All FBI employees are held to the highest standards of conduct, and allegations against any employee are taken very seriously.”
The allegations could deal another blow to the agency which has drawn a barrage of criticisms after being ensnared in political battles in the US.
The FBI was previously asked to reopen a background investigation into recently-appointed Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh who was accused of sexual assault, which he denied.
The agency has also been investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, which allegedly involved people from the Trump campaign.
According to the WSJ report, the FBI stations its so-called legal attaché officers, or “legats”, in US embassies in dozens of cities around the world. The officers are tasked with working with foreign counterparts to combat international terrorism and gather information on crimes that the FBI are investigating.
Former agents and other familiar with the FBI said the posts often lasts several years and involved cultivating relationships with local officials over late-night drinks.
While prostitution may be legal in some of the countries involved, the FBI is concerned over the possibility of foreign intelligence agencies attempting to compromise agents or other US embassy personnel, people familiar with the matter said.
The former agents said the officers are often given extensive briefings on how foreign officers could potentially seek to compromise them.
The FBI did not disclose the nature of the allegations against the agents, or the whereabouts of the alleged activities.
In recent years, other US law enforcement agencies, including the Secret Service and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), have also faced similar scandals with officers found partying with prostitutes.