Secret documents show how 5 banks handled $ 2 trillion investigated customers

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Dollars. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

From the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

DSecret documents from the United States government analyzed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) reveal that five multinational banks handled 2 trillion dollars in transactions flagged as suspicious by the financial institutions’ control bodies. The suspicion was that the operations were for money laundering or that the funds came from criminal activity. The leaked documents, dubbed FinCEN Files, include more than 2,100 suspicious activity reports sent by banks and other financial companies to the United States Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The agency, known as FinCEN, is an intelligence unit of the global anti-money laundering system. The equivalent in Brazil is the Financial Activities Control Council, Coaf.

ICIJ’s analysis looked at transactions carried out between 1999 and 2017 – including $ 514 billion that passed through JPMorgan and $ 1.3 trillion through Deutsche Bank. Transactions from HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank and Bank of New York Mellon were also analyzed. Although reports of suspicious activity reflect the concerns of bank auditors and are not necessarily evidence of criminal conduct, the documents show that the five banks continued to profit from the movement of funds even after being fined by the US authorities for failing to contain the suspicious cash flow.

BuzzFeed News obtained the confidential documents and shared them with ICIJ. They refer to bank customers in more than 170 countries. For this reason, ICIJ coordinated a network of more than 400 journalists from 110 news organizations in 88 countries to investigate the records on suspicious operations. In Brazil, the project Piauí, Season and Power360. Reports about Brazilian clients or those linked to Brazil that had their movements marked as suspicious by bank auditors are published today and in the next few days by the three vehicles.

The FinCEN Files show that JPMorgan – the largest bank based in the United States – moved more than $ 1 billion to the fugitive financier who starred in the Malaysian state investment fund scandal 1MDB. JPMorgan also spent more than $ 2 million on the company of a young tycoon accused of cheating the Venezuelan government and helping to cause electrical blackouts in large areas of Venezuela. Also according to the documents analyzed by the ICIJ, JPMorgan also processed more than $ 50 million in payments over a decade to Paul Manafort, the former campaign director for President Donald Trump sentenced to prison for bank and tax fraud.

In response to this report, JPMorgan stated that it is legally prohibited from talking about customers or transactions. The institution said it has taken a “leading role” in the pursuit of “proactive intelligence-led investigations” and in the development of “innovative techniques to help combat financial crime”.

FinCEN and its controller, the Treasury Department, did not respond to a series of questions sent last month by ICIJ and its partners. FinCEN told BuzzFeed News that it does not comment on the “existence or non-existence” of reports of specific suspicious activities, also known as “SARs” (acronym for “suspicious activity reports”). Days before the investigation was released by ICIJ and its partners, FinCEN announced that it was looking for ways to improve the United States’ anti-money laundering system.

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