After months of research in 88 countries with more than 400 journalists involved, the International Network of Investigative Journalists ICIJ together with the US investigative media company BuzzFeed today published a new leak: For the first time, reports of suspected money laundering to the US anti-money laundering authority FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) provide an insight into criminal transactions at major banks including HSBC and Deutsche Bank. FinCEN is, inter alia, the US Financial Intelligence Unit (FiU), which analyses suspected money laundering reports from banks and other obligated companies. Previous leaks at ICIJ, such as the Panama Papers, Paradise Papers, Offshore leaks, LuxLeaks and Mauritius Leaks either related primarily to tax or did not allow insight into what was happening within the banks and the reactions of the money laundering supervisory authorities. However, the leak is only a fraction of all reports of suspected money laundering in the USA and is therefore not statistically meaningful.
Sven Giegold, economic and financial policy spokesman for the Greens/EFA in the European Parliament explains:
“This wake-up call comes at the right time! If the fight against tax dumping and financial crime were successful, public coffers would be full instead of empty.
It is scandalous that large international banks continue to allow money laundering on a large scale even after the global financial crisis. All promises by global banks to keep their hands off criminal money have become untrustworthy at the latest now. It is state failure on a grand scale that public authorities have for years shown themselves incapable of putting an end to this growing financial crime.
We Greens will demand an evaluation and a hearing on the new leaks in the new Tax Committee of the European Parliament. It will be particularly interesting to find out exactly when which of the banks involved last made questionable transactions. Here, the new media reports are often unclear.
At all levels, the rule of law needs a strengthening of the prosecution of financial crime. The globalisation of crime needs a forceful European response. The joint supervision of money laundering with a European Financial Intelligence Unit must now come quickly. The resistance of many Member States to a European FiU is a scandal in the face of new revelations. If the crime is international, the prosecution must not remain national.
In Germany, too, large numbers of money laundering scandals must finally have effective consequences. Germany needs a powerful Financial Intelligence Unit (FiU), as required by European law. The tightened corporate sanctions law must now be adopted swiftly by the Bundestag and Bundesrat without further dilution. All German Länder must strengthen the competent police authorities and public prosecutor’s offices. Even the strictest laws are worth nothing if the law enforcement agencies are starved of resources”.
Links to the #FinCENfiles revelations: https://www.icij.org/investigations/fincen-files/global-banks-defy-u-s-crackdowns-by-serving-oligarchs-criminals-and-terrorists/
PS: Save-The-Date | Italian-German webinar on “Funding the Corona Recovery by curbing tax dumping and money laundering” with Finance Ministers Scholz (Germany) und Gualtieri (Italy) on Wednesday, 30.9.2020 7-8pm. Register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Tt9-EIA_Q9-1eC_QetcPCg