Prior to this reporting, very few SARs had ever been revealed. The FinCEN Files encompass more than 2,100.
Will there be folks taking the easy way out after these revelations, but more importantly, will this have an effect on future prosecutions that might even involve Trump and his minions, because Deutsche Bank. So much corruption because it is part of making money.
BuzzFeed News’ investigation shows that:
- Standard Chartered moved money on behalf of Al Zarooni Exchange, a Dubai-based business that was later accused of laundering cash on behalf of the Taliban. During the years that Al Zarooni was a Standard Chartered customer, Taliban militants staged violent attacks that killed civilians and soldiers.
- HSBC’s Hong Kong branch allowed WCM777, a Ponzi scheme, to move more than $15 million even as the business was being barred from operating in three states. Authorities say the scam stole at least $80 million from investors, mainly Latino and Asian immigrants, and the company’s owner used the looted funds to buy two golf courses, a 7,000-square-foot mansion, a 39.8-carat diamond, and mining rights in Sierra Leone.
- Bank of America, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, American Express, and others collectively processed millions of dollars in transactions for the family of Viktor Khrapunov, the former mayor of Kazakhstan’s most populous city, even after Interpol issued a Red Notice for his arrest. Khrapunov, who had already fled to Switzerland and who claims the allegations are politically motivated, was later convicted in absentia on charges that included bribe-taking and defrauding the city through the sale of public property.
The banks mentioned in this story said they could not comment on specific transactions due to bank secrecy laws. Their statements can be found here.
By law, banks must file suspicious activity reports when they spot transactions that bear the hallmarks of money laundering or other financial misconduct, such as large, round-number transactions or payments between companies with no discernible business relationship. SARs are not by themselves evidence of a crime, but FinCEN’s director, Kenneth Blanco, has called them “vital for law enforcement investigations.”Information from millions of these documents feeds into a single database, through which law enforcement officers can summon detailed financial information with a few keystrokes. The FinCEN Files opens a rare window into this vast system of financial intelligence, unmatched in the world but all but unknown to the public. The SARs themselves are so closely held that members of the public cannot obtain them through records requests or subpoenas, and banks are not allowed even to confirm their existence.In 2017, when US congressional committees began investigating the last presidential election and other matters, they, too, turned to the Treasury Department database.
They requested SARs on Deutsche Bank, which had loaned Trump money; Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who wrote the so-called Trump dossier; an array of Russian oligarchs; Trump’s former campaign chairperson Paul Manafort; and even a small casino in the Pacific run by a former Trump employee. All told, they were looking for information on more than 200 entities.FinCEN unearthed tens of thousands of pages of documents. Those documents, along with a few additional SARs requested by federal law enforcement authorities, make up the majority of the FinCEN Files. Some were never turned over to the committees that requested them. A person familiar with the matter blew the whistle to multiple members of Congress.
The collection does not include any SARs about Trump’s finances. (A source familiar with the matter told BuzzFeed News that FinCEN’s database did not contain SARs on either Trump or the Trump Organization.) And though the documents show suspicious payments to people in Trump’s orbit before and after key moments in the 2016 presidential campaign, they do not provide direct information on any election interference.
If the government wanted to, experts in financial crime say, it could stop the dirty money coursing through the big banks, as well as the vast array of criminal activity it funds.
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) September 20, 2020
— Terry (@BusterBlackJet) September 20, 2020
— Jack Rhysider (@JackRhysider) September 20, 2020
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) September 20, 2020