Some of the world’s biggest banks including HSBC and Barclays ‘let criminals and fraudsters move dirty money around the globe – in some cases even after being told’ global investigation reveals

Two trillion dollar’s worth of transactions were analysed from leaked dossiers
The five banks which featured most in the documents were HSBC, JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered, Bank of New York Mellon
Documents are said to reveal ‘banking system’s most closely guarded secrets’
Also reported to show how Russian oligarchs avoid being hit by sanctions


PUBLISHED: 16:06 EDT, 20 September 2020 | UPDATED: 09:49 EDT, 21 September 2020

Some of the world’s biggest banks let criminals and fraudsters move dirty money around the world, according to leaked financial dossiers.

Banking papers detailing $2 trillion in dealings were analysed after being leaked to Buzzfeed News and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which distributed them to 108 news organisations, BBC Panorama said.

HSBC is one of several international banks whose name appears most in the cache of thousands of secret US government documents called the FinCEN files.

They show that HSBC continued shuttling funds through to accounts in Hong Kong months after it was warned about the Ponzi scheme worth £62 million.

Five international banks which appeared most often in the documents were HSBC, JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered and Bank of New York Mellon, the ICIJ reported

When HSBC, the UK’s largest bank, closed down the fraudsters’ accounts they had already been drained of the millions.

HSBC said in a statement that ‘all of the information provided by the ICIJ is historical.’

The bank said as of 2012, ‘HSBC embarked on a multi-year journey to overhaul its ability to combat financial crime across more than 60 jurisdictions.’

Along with HSBC, the other international banks which appeared most often in the documents were JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered and Bank of New York Mellon, the ICIJ reported.

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

One of Vladimir Putin’s closest friends, billionaire Arkady Rotenberg may have used Barclays Bank in London to launder cash and avoid sanctions, the documents suggest.

In March 2014, Russia was hit with sanctions after the annexation of Crimea.

Rotenberg, a childhood friend of Putin, and his brother Boris were designated ‘members of the Russian leadership’s inner circle,’ by the US Treasury Department.

It is alleged that an account called Advantage Alliance, set up with Barclays in 2008, was used by Rotenberg to transfer funds to buy millions of pounds worth of art in London.

The leaked dossiers suggest that many of the transactions through the account came after the Rotenberg brothers had been sanctioned.

A spokesperson for Barclays said: ‘We believe that we have complied with all our legal and regulatory obligations including in relation to US sanctions.’

‘Given the filing of a SAR (suspicious activity report) is not itself evidence of any actual wrongdoing, we would only terminate a client relationship after careful and objective investigation and analysis of the evidence, balancing potential financial crime suspicions with the risk of “de-banking” an innocent customer.’

The Rotenbergs have not commented.

The FinCEN documents are mostly files banks sent to the US authorities between 2000 and 2017, raising concerns about suspicious activity in their clients’ accounts, Panorama said.

The programme called the documents ‘some of the international banking system’s most closely guarded secrets’.

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