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The big investigations of the big banks let criminals move dirty money around the globe


Some of the largest banks in the world let criminals and scammers move dirty money around the world, according to leaked financial files.

More than 2,000 sensitive bank papers with transactions valued at more than $ 2 trillion were analyzed after being leaked to BuzzFeed News and passed on to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which distributed them to 108 news organizations, BBC Panorama said.

They allegedly show that bank tellers allowed scammers to move money between different accounts after being told that the profits came from millions of pounds in fraud or crime.

Five international banks that featured most frequently in the documents were HSBC, JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered, and Bank of New York Mellon, the ICIJ reported.

More than 2,000 sensitive banking documents with transactions worth more than $ 2 trillion were analyzed after they were leaked to BuzzFeed News and passed on to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which distributed them to 108 news organizations, BBC Panorama said (archive image)

Types of transactions highlighted in the report include: funds processed by JPMorgan for potentially corrupt individuals and businesses in Venezuela, Ukraine and Malaysia; Money from a Ponzi program that flows through HSBC; and money related to a Ukrainian billionaire being processed by Deutsche Bank.

The files are also supposed to show how Russian oligarchs are using banks to avoid sanctions and get their money to the West.

The file cache known as FinCEN (by the US Financial Crimes Investigation Network) is primarily composed of files sent to US authorities between 2000 and 2017, raising concerns about suspicious activity on their clients' accounts, Panorama said.

The program called the documents "some of the best-kept secrets of the international banking system".

Anti-corruption group Transparency International UK said the suspicious activity reports (SARs) "repeatedly cite weak anti-money laundering measures in the UK financial sector as a major problem".

It added: "The leak shows how British banks time and again fail to address suspicious activity and instead offer their services to those with money to hide.

"Transparency International UK previously identified 86 UK banks and financial institutions that, inadvertently or otherwise, helped corrupt individuals acquire assets and move suspicious assets."

Chief Executive Officer Daniel Bruce said, “These revelations are a bloody indictment of the system designed to prevent the UK and other financial centers from becoming havens for dirty money.

& # 39; The government should act quickly on this significant investigation to show that the UK is serious about tackling dirty money.

& # 39; We know the solutions exist; For example by reforming the Corporate Liability Act to hold banks accountable for money laundering deficiencies and by speeding up legislation to revise UK company law.

"Right now it is far too easy for kleptocrats and criminals to wash their illegal prey with the veneer of British companies and institutions."

Alex Cobham, General Manager of Tax Justice Network, said, “As will be seen in the coming days, many of the largest financial institutions in the world have completely failed to meet their own responsibilities in the name of making a profit, however dirty they may be.

"Quick and solid action is required, including potential criminal charges, or banks will simply continue to treat the prospect of being caught and fined as a simple business expense."

In a statement to Reuters, HSBC said, "All information provided by the ICIJ is historical."

As of 2012, the bank said, "HSBC has embarked on a multi-year journey to revamp its ability to fight financial crime in more than 60 countries."

Standard Chartered said in a statement to Reuters: "We take our responsibility to fight financial crime very seriously and have invested heavily in our compliance programs."

BNY Mellon told Reuters it had no comment on certain SARs. "We fully comply with all applicable laws and regulations and support the authorities in the important work that they do," the bank said.

JPM did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but instead said in a statement to BuzzFeed that "thousands of employees and hundreds of millions of dollars are being devoted to assisting law enforcement and national security efforts."

Deutsche Bank said in a statement on Sunday that "to the extent that the information referenced by the ICIJ comes from SARs, it should be noted that this is information that banks proactively identify and provide to governments in accordance with the law" .

FinCen said in a statement on its website on Sept. 1, it was known that various media outlets intend to publish a series of articles based on illegally disclosed SARs as well as other documents and that unauthorized disclosure of SARs was a crime that can compromise the national security of the United States. & # 39;

U.S. Treasury officials did not immediately respond to an email on Sunday with a comment.

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