More than 2,500 leaked documents reveal ‘suspicious money flows at banks’

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More than 2,500 leaked documents from the US anti-money laundering unit FinCEN reveal large flows of suspicious, black and criminal money at major international banks. This was revealed on Sunday from research by more than a hundred media organizations in more than 88 countries, including Faithful, Financieel Dagblad and research collective Research.

‘The Dutch play a leading role’

The documents show, among other things, that two Dutch companies may have diverted billions of illegal dollars from Russia, the three Dutch media write. Rich Russians could secretly move their money to the West. A subsidiary of ING in Poland played an important role in this, according to the three media.

These are documents that were leaked from the American financial investigation agency Financial Crimes Investigation Network (FinCEN) between 2000 and 2017. Banks worldwide send reports to FinCEN if they are concerned about suspicious transactions. These documents would, according to BBC News are very well kept secrets of the international banking sector. The documents concern about 2.3 trillion dollars (nearly 2 trillion euros) in financial transactions.

The documents have been leaked to the news site Buzzfeed and shared with partner media of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). Several media outlets published revelations arising from the documents around 7 p.m. on Sunday. Suspected abuses within the British bank HSBC, ING, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan and Barclays Bank, among others, come to light.

One of the documents allegedly shows that Dutch companies Schildershoven Finance BV and Tristane Capital played a key role in secretly moving millions of euros from Russia, write Faithful, Financieel Dagblad in I investigate.

The two companies used a share or bond exchange trick called ‘mirror trading’. The Dutch traders used an account held by ING Slaski, a Polish subsidiary of ING. This bank also executed these stock transactions for the two companies, the three media write.

ING Slaski would have facilitated about $ 675 million in payments to companies that FinCEN counts as part of a money laundering network, the documents would show.

ING Slaski and ING Group tell the three Dutch media that they cannot respond to individual cases. The bank does report that it will investigate the reports about mirror trade. Current and former directors of Schildershoven and Tristane say they do not want to respond to the three media.

The reports on ‘suspicious trade’ provide unparalleled insight into global financial corruption, the banks that enable it and governments that make it happen, Buzzfeed writes. It would also show how weak the rules are to prevent suspicious transactions.

Banks share so-called Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) with FinCen to identify suspicious transactions. But legally speaking, it is not enough to just file these reports, he said BBC News. The banks must know who the customers are and no longer accept or move this suspicious money, the British broadcaster writes.

The more than 2,500 leaked documents are only a small part of the SAR reports that were submitted to FinCEN in the period 2000 to 2017, Fergus Shiel of the ICIJ told the British broadcaster. According to Shiel, the documents provide insight into “what banks know about immense cash flows of suspicious money going around the world”.

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