6 Pakistani banks named in money laundering cases by The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
Sources state that FinCEN received more than 2 million suspicious activity reports (SARs) last year.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has published an investigation into the role of global banks’ in industrial-scale money laundering and its catastrophic consequences worldwide. The report was titled as FinCEN Files.
FinCEN (The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) is an agency within the Treasury Department responsible for combating money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes. The agency collects millions of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) and summarizes foreign leaders’ dealings under the report’ Kleptocracy Weekly’. The compiled data is then forwarded to the U.S. law enforcement agency and other nations’ financial intelligence operations.
Revelations of the Recent FinCEN Report
- Global banks moved more than $2 trillion between 1999 and 2017 in suspicious payments.
- Clients were identified as being involved in potentially illicit transactions in more than 170 countries. The figures include $514 billion at JPMorgan Chase and $1.3 trillion at Deutsche Bank.
- Government documents uncovered 29 transactions that showed suspicious transactions to and from Pakistan. $1,942,560 was received due to these transactions that included one ‘sent’ transactions worth $452,000. These transactions were from Allied Bank Limited (ABL), United Bank Limited (UBL), Habib Metropolitan Bank Ltd, Bank Alfalah, Standard Chartered Bank (SCB), and Habib Bank Limited (HBL).
In a report, ICIJ stated:
Five banks (JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Deutsche Bank, and Bank of New York Mellon) were fined for financial misconduct and failure to stem flows of dirty money by U.S. authorities. However, these financial institutions continued to move illicit cash for shadow characters and criminal networks.
ICIJ further stated:
In half of the FinCEN Files reports, banks didn’t have information about one or more entities behind the transactions.
BuzzFeed News covered the FinCENreport in a story titled ‘The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network or FinCEN’ and stated:
Laws that were meant to stop financial crime have instead allowed it to flourish. So long as a bank files a notice that it may be facilitating criminal activity, it all but immunizes itself and its executives from criminal prosecution. The suspicious activity alert effectively gives them a free pass to keep moving the money and collecting the fees.
Sources state that FinCEN received more than 2 million suspicious activity reports (SARs) last year. Over the past decade, the number has doubled due to the mounting pressure to file and the rising international transaction volume.
However, FinCEN’s staff has shrunk by 10%. Thus, let alone acted upon, most SARs are never even read.
What should be done to stop money laundering?
As per ICIJ, the following can be done:
- International banks, country banks, and the countries’ regulatory authorities from where these suspicious transactions are originating should be held equally accountable.
- Awareness should be created about real harm cases that stem from banks moving money for fraudsters, drug dealers, and allegedly corrupt officials. The consequences of these are profound as narcotraffickers, smugglers, and Ponzi schemers shift illicit profits beyond the reach of authorities and swell their ill-gotten fortunes and consolidate power.
Writing about the story, D.W. said:
In Pakistan’s case, it is not just about the white-collar crimes that may be the cause or the consequence of unchecked money transfers, but the fact that these crimes also contribute to the ever-looming terrorism threat.
All of this makes us think, will the unavoidable reality of today’s global economy ever come to a halt or will the shadow financial system network of banks continue to give way to dirty money?
What are your thoughts on this? Please share with us in the comment section below.