FinCEN Files: Big Banks Moved $2 Trillion in Illicit Funds

A cache of leaked documents showed some of the world's biggest banks transferred more than $2 trillion in suspect funds over nearly 20 years

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These transactions were processed via three US-based banks, which filed suspicious activity reports with FinCEN, namely The Bank of New York Mellon Corp (14 transactions, sent US$10,100, received US$4.76 million), Standard Chartered Plc (seven transactions, sent US$13.37 million), and JP Morgan Chase & Co (two transactions, received US$121,185).

The London-based bank's Hong Kong shares on Monday slid below their closing low for March 2009, closing at HK$29.30.

In the order of the number of dubious transactions, ICJI has named these Indian banks in its reports: IndusInd Bank, Canara Bank, Bank of India, SBI, Axis Bank, Allahabad Bank, ICICI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Deutsche Bank, HDFC Bank, Bank of Maharashtra, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Karur Vysya Bank, Union Bank of India, State Bank of Patiala, HSBC, RBS Bank, YES Bank, Bank of Baroda, Uco Bank, Karnataka Bank, Tamil and Mercantile Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Indian Bank, Andhra Bank, Vijaya Bank and Credit Bank.

The data, obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) from the Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) filed by American banks between 2005 and 2017 reveal that nearly all major Indian banks - public, private and foreign - were flagged for these transactions.

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In addition to being named in the investigation, a report said HSBC might be on Beijing's "unreliable entity list" as part of a tit-for-tat stand-off with several western countries.

Dutch media reported that an ING subsidiary in Poland had helped clients get suspect funds out of Russian Federation for several years.

It was led by more than 100 global media outlets from 88 different countries and is based on over 2,000 suspicious activity reports (SARs) submitted to the US Treasury Department's financial law enforcement agency, FinCEN, by banks.

The documents, known as the FinCEN files, revealed how big banks have for years engaged with dirty money. The documents are distributed and shared with law enforcement and financial intelligence groups around the world, but the agency does not force banks engaging in financial crimes to stop, BuzzFeed News, which obtained the leaked documents, reported.

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The bank said the issues raised were "historic", while the German Finance Ministry said on Monday that the cases linked to Germany in the reports had already been dealt with.

HSBC told the investigation team it has always met its legal duties on reporting suspicious activities.

The investigation also highlighted the American authorities' lack of power in regulating dirty financial transactions. The bank also said it had "devoted significant resources to strengthening our controls", as well as focused on "meeting our responsibilities and obligations".

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