An international group of investigative journalists has been provided with thousands of documents that provide details of money worth about $2 trillion that potentially was amassed through corrupt means and had passed through the financial system of the United States.
The leaked documents pertain to more than 2,000 suspicious activity reports (SARs) that were filed with the US government’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
When banks and other financial institutions believe that a client is using their services for potential criminal activity, they are known to file SARs. But the legal standing of such filing is that banks are not required to stop having business relations with clients who are named in the an SAR.
The documents were initially made available to BuzzFeed News which then shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
The documents reportedly suggest that financial services to high-risk individuals from around the world were provided by major banks. In some cases, banks and financial institutions allowed transactions of individuals who had been sanctioned by the US government.
Transactions worth more than $2tn that took place between 1999 and 2017 are mentioned in the documents, the ICIJ said.
Paul Manafort, a political strategist who led Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign for several months, was one of the individuals named in the SARs. But after the exposure of his consultancy work for the former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, he stepped down from the role. Activities relating to Manafort were being reported by banks as far back as 2012, according to the ICIJ. One of the SARs filed by JP Morgan Chase in 2017 reported about wire transfers to the tune of more than $300 million that were linked to shell companies in Cyprus which had reportedly done some business with Manafort.
The ICIJ said Manafort’s lawyer did not respond to an invitation to comment.
Further, JP Morgan Chase had also reported details of more than $1bn in wire transfers which was later suspected to be linked with an alleged Russian organised crime boss Semion Mogilevich, and who is in the top 10 wanted list of the FBI.
“We follow all laws and regulations in support of the government’s work to combat financial crimes. We devote thousands of people and hundreds of millions of dollars to this important work,” a JP Morgan Chase spokesperson told the media.
A group of criminals were allowed to transfer millions of dollars from a Ponzi scheme through the accounts of the British bank HSBC even after the fraud had been identified claimed a report from BBC Panorama.
“Starting in 2012, HSBC embarked on a multi-year journey to overhaul its ability to combat financial crime across more than 60 jurisdictions.” It added: “HSBC is a much safer institution than it was in 2012,” HSBC said in a statement.
The disclosure of the leaked documents s condemned by FinCEN in a statement released earlier this month. It added that the matter had been referred to the US Department of Justice.
“The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network is aware that various media outlets intend to publish a series of articles based on unlawfully disclosed suspicious activity reports (SARs), as well as other sensitive government documents, from several years ago,” it stated.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)