FinCEN files: banks helping criminals launder money

According to more than 2000 documents leaked by the US anti-money laundering agency FinCEN and published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), several major banks, including Deutsche Bank and the Swiss subsidiary of HSBC, have done business with shady customers who have been convicted of money laundering. How can banks be prevented from helping to cover up corruption and crime?

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taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Europe needs a financial sheriff

An antidote to such scandals must be set up at the EU level, the taz urges:

“What's needed is a European financial police force like the MEPs associated with the Green Sven Giegold are calling for, as well as tougher penalties. Anyone who carries around suitcases of money for criminals, so to speak, is guilty of obstructing justice and assisting illegal undertakings. And if the guilt can't be assigned individually, the banks themselves must be hit so hard that money laundering as a business model becomes unthinkable. The suspension of banking licences demanded by the SPD is populist nonsense, because precisely the global, criminal banks it's meant to target would be protected due to their size and complexity.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Bank secrecy blocking investigation efforts

Unfortunately little will come to light in Poland, Gazeta Wyborcza complains:

“Countless reports have been written about why Russian oligarchs are trying to legalise their dirty business in Latvia or Estonia. They all stress that the Baltic states are so attractive for these activities because they have a well-developed banking system, stable economic development and, above all, a strong Russian minority. ... The problem is that the first two characteristics also apply to the Polish economy. Why should Poland be free of this practice? A FinCEN document that we found confirms that money from the east is also laundered on the Vistula. However, we won't learn much about it. Everything is hidden under the veil of financial and banking secrecy.”