Banks moved dirty money despite red flags: reports | News from the United States

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Several global banks have transferred large sums of allegedly illicit funds over a span of nearly two decades, despite red flags about the origin of the money, BuzzFeed and other media reported, citing confidential documents. submitted by banks to the US government.Sunday’s series of reports were based in part on documents, called Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs), filed by banks and other financial companies with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the US Department of the Treasury.

The SARs, which were reported to number over 2,100, were obtained by BuzzFeed News and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and other media organizations.

In total, the ICIJ reported that the files contained information on more than $ 2 trillion in transactions between 1999 and 2017, which were flagged by internal financial institutions’ compliance departments as suspicious. RAD is not necessarily in itself evidence of wrongdoing.

Five global banks appeared in the documents most often – HSBC, JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered and Bank of New York Mellon (BNY Mellon), the ICIJ reported.

A bank has a maximum of 60 days to deposit SARs after the date of initial detection of a reportable transaction, according to the Treasury Department’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Delay in the declaration

The ICIJ report says that in some cases, banks did not report suspicious transactions until years after processing them.

The SARs also showed that banks often move funds for companies registered in offshore havens, such as the British Virgin Islands, and do not know the ultimate owner of the account, according to the report.

Among the types of transactions highlighted by the report: funds processed by JPMorgan for potentially corrupt individuals and companies in Venezuela, Ukraine and Malaysia; money from a Ponzi scheme going through HSBC; and money linked to a Ukrainian billionaire processed by Deutsche Bank.

In a statement to Reuters news agency, HSBC said that “all information provided by the ICIJ is historical”.

The bank said that from 2012, “HSBC embarked on a multi-year journey to review its ability to tackle financial crime in more than 60 jurisdictions.”

Standard Chartered said in a statement to Reuters: “We take our responsibility to fight financial crime very seriously and have made significant investments in our compliance programs. “

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BNY Mellon told Reuters he could not comment on specific SARs.

“We fully comply with all applicable laws and regulations and assist authorities in the important work they do,” the bank said.

JPMorgan did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but said in a statement to BuzzFeed that “thousands of employees and hundreds of millions of dollars are spent supporting law enforcement and security efforts. national ”.

Deutsche Bank said in a statement on Sunday that “to the extent that information referenced by the ICIJ is derived from SARs, it should be noted that this is information that is proactively identified and submitted by banks to governments in accordance with the law ”.

FinCEN said in a statement posted to its website on September 1 that it was aware that various media intended to publish a series of articles based on illegally disclosed DASs, as well as other documents, and said that “the unauthorized disclosure of DAS is a crime that may impact the national security of the United States”.

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

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