Trillions of dollars laundered by financial institutions: Drug cartels to terrorism

Trillions of dollars laundered by financial institutions: Drug cartels to terrorism

Kanako Mita and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Allegations are emerging over enormous money laundering scandals covering the period 1999-2017. More than likely, this is only the tip of a much bigger iceberg. However, once more, the image of banks and multinational financial institutions are being tarnished.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) is accessing over 2,100 Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) after BuzzFeed News was given leaked documents. These SARs apply to transactions that amount to over 2 trillion dollars. Therefore, with suspicions being that the real scale is likely higher, it shows you how “dirty money” is being openly utilized by criminals and organizations.

The ICIJ reports, “Government fines and threats of criminal prosecutions against banks haven’t stopped a tide of illicit payments.” 

Astonishingly, over 3,000 United Kingdom companies are named in the FinCEN files. While allegations relate to Deutsche Bank and money laundering involving drug traffickers, organized crime syndicates, and terrorism. For Standard Chartered it is the funding of terrorism via murky banks in the Middle East. Likewise, HSBC, JP Morgan, Bank of New York Mellon, and others, are equally known for extremely shady dealings.

The New York Times reports, “Among BuzzFeed’s main findings were that Standard Chartered, which operates primarily in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, appears to have helped move funds on behalf of a Dubai-based company that reportedly had ties to the Taliban. JPMorgan, Bank of New York Mellon and other banks appear to have helped move more than $150 million for companies tied to the North Korean regime, according to a companion report by NBC News.”

Alarmingly, ICIJ says, “HSBC was profiting from an international criminal scheme even while on probation for having served murderous drug cartels and other criminals. HSBC had admitted to U.S. prosecutors in 2012 that it had helped dirty money flow through its branches around the world, including at least $881 million controlled by the notorious Sinaloa cartel and other Mexican drug gangs.”

Deutsche Welle reports, “Germany’s largest bank Deutsche Bank is no stranger to scandals. But the leaked FinCEN files suggest the bank was aware it was facilitating suspicious transactions amounting to over $1 trillion dollars, including for a period after it had promised to clean up its act.”

Overall, more information will continue to highlight the murky role of banks and financial institutions – and state actors. On the one hand, you have drug cartels, rich oligarchs, and organized crime syndicates. While, on the other hand, you have terrorism-related funding angles and geopolitical ventures being played by bigger parties.

Therefore, the fact that major banking and financial institutions can still profit from criminal activity – despite being on probation – sums up a very murky world.


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