20 September 2020   Leave a comment

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has published a report on how major international banks have potentially laundered $2 trillion worth of transactions by a number of individuals and organizations over the period from 1999 to 2017. The report is based upon about 2,100 leaked Suspicious Activities Reports (SARS) to the US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen). The list of suspected individuals is a vertiable rogue’s gallery which also includes Paul Manafort, one of President Trump’s campaign managers in 2016 who was flagged as early as 2012. The ICIJ reports:

“Secret U.S. government documents reveal that JPMorgan Chase, HSBC and other big banks have defied money laundering crackdowns by moving staggering sums of illicit cash for shadowy characters and criminal networks that have spread chaos and undermined democracy around the world.

“The records show that five global banks — JPMorgan, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank and Bank of New York Mellon — kept profiting from powerful and dangerous players even after U.S. authorities fined these financial institutions for earlier failures to stem flows of dirty money.

“U.S. agencies responsible for enforcing money laundering laws rarely prosecute megabanks that break the law, and the actions authorities do take barely ripple the flood of plundered money that washes through the international financial system.

“In some cases the banks kept moving illicit funds even after U.S. officials warned them they’d face criminal prosecutions if they didn’t stop doing business with mobsters, fraudsters or corrupt regimes.”

The report, however, goes on to indicate that these records are merely a drop in the bucket of possibly illegal activity:

“Though a vast amount, the $2 trillion in suspicious transactions identified within this set of documents is just a drop in a far larger flood of dirty money gushing through banks around the world.  The FinCEN Files represent less than 0.02% of the more than 12 million suspicious activity reports that financial institutions filed with FinCEN between 2011 and 2017.

“FinCEN and its parent, the Treasury Department, did not answer a series of questions sent last month by ICIJ and its partners. FinCEN told BuzzFeed News that it does not comment on the ‘existence or non-existence’ of specific suspicious activity reports, sometimes known as SARs. Days before the release of the investigation by ICIJ and its partners, FinCEN announced that it was seeking public comments on ways to improve the U.S.’s anti-money laundering system.

“The cache of suspicious activity reports — along with hundreds of spreadsheets filled with names, dates and figures — flag bank clients in more than 170 countries who were identified as being involved in potentially illicit transactions.”

It is staggering to think of how people have been incarcerated for victimless and petty crimes. According to the American Civil Liberties Union:

“Despite making up close to 5% of the global population, the U.S. has nearly 25% of the world’s prison population. Since 1970, our incarcerated population has increased by 700% ­­–  2.3 million people in jail and prison today, far outpacing population growth and crime. 

“One out of every three Black boys born today can expect to go to prison in his lifetime, as can one of every six Latino boys—compared to one of every 17 white boys. At the same time, women are the fastest growing incarcerated population in the United States.

“‪There are twice as many people sitting in local jails awaiting trial and presumed innocent than in the entire federal prison system. And each year, 650,000 men and women nationwide return from prison to their communities. They face nearly 50,000 federal, state, and local legal restrictions that make it difficult to reintegrate back into society.”

But it appears as if you can move around millions of dollars, it is unlikely that you will ever be prosecuted. The term “double-standard” does not even come close to describing the inequities in the system.

Posted September 20, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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