Documents Show the US Government Allows Banks to Launder Money for International Crime Groups

It took ten journalists, but Buzzfeed actually put together an article worth reading. (I wouldn’t recommend that you do read it, but in some universe where you like reading long, boring articles, you would read it and say, “that was okay.”)

It’s about the release of government documents showing that the government allows banks to move money for international crime groups.

Ten (10) different journalists write for Buzzfeed:

A huge trove of secret government documents reveals for the first time how the giants of Western banking move trillions of dollars in suspicious transactions, enriching themselves and their shareholders while facilitating the work of terrorists, kleptocrats, and drug kingpins.

And the US government, despite its vast powers, fails to stop it.

Today, the FinCEN Files — thousands of “suspicious activity reports” and other US government documents — offer an unprecedented view of global financial corruption, the banks enabling it, and the government agencies that watch as it flourishes. BuzzFeed News has shared these reports with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and more than 100 news organizations in 88 countries.

These documents, compiled by banks, shared with the government, but kept from public view, expose the hollowness of banking safeguards, and the ease with which criminals have exploited them. Profits from deadly drug wars, fortunes embezzled from developing countries, and hard-earned savings stolen in a Ponzi scheme were all allowed to flow into and out of these financial institutions, despite warnings from the banks’ own employees.

Money laundering is a crime that makes other crimes possible. It can accelerate economic inequality, drain public funds, undermine democracy, and destabilize nations — and the banks play a key role. “Some of these people in those crisp white shirts in their sharp suits are feeding off the tragedy of people dying all over the world,” said Martin Woods, a former suspicious transactions investigator for Wachovia.

Laws that were meant to stop financial crime have instead allowed it to flourish. So long as a bank files a notice that it may be facilitating criminal activity, it all but immunizes itself and its executives from criminal prosecution. The suspicious activity alert effectively gives them a free pass to keep moving the money and collecting the fees.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, is the agency within the Treasury Department charged with combating money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes. It collects millions of these suspicious activity reports, known as SARs. It makes them available to US law enforcement agencies and other nations’ financial intelligence operations. It even compiles a report called “Kleptocracy Weekly” that summarizes the dealings of foreign leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin.

What it does not do is force the banks to shut the money laundering down.

In the rare instances when the US government does crack down on banks, it often relies on sweetheart deals called deferred prosecution agreements, which include fines but no high-level arrests. The Trump administration has made it even harder to hold executives personally accountable, under guidance by former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein that warned government agencies against “piling on.”

But the FinCEN Files investigation shows that even after they were prosecuted or fined for financial misconduct, banks such as JPMorgan ChaseHSBCStandard CharteredDeutsche Bank, and Bank of New York Mellon continued to move money for suspected criminals.

Suspicious payments flow around the world and into countless industries, from international sports to Hollywood entertainment to luxury real estate to Nobu sushi restaurants. They filter into the companies that make familiar items from people’s lives, from the gas in their car to the granola in their cereal bowl.

The article goes on for several thousand words. It also has a big flashy production with nice images, showing that Buzzfeed is very proud of their work. They even put up a special page with accompanying materials.

Seriously though: ten co-authors.

Never heard of that before in my life.

Of course, the article more or less works under the assumption that this is not a conspiracy, where Jews within the government work with Jews within the banks to skim the money off of these crime rackets. Also, it blames Russia, and points to a lot of crimes that are basically fake crimes, like circumventing Iran sanctions (the US tries to enforce that internationally without any jurisdiction).

Also, probably the entire purpose of putting this in the news is in preparation for further sanctions on Russia and China.

Regardless of the spin, or the agenda, it is truly incredible that Buzzfeed was, after all of these years, finally able to put out a piece of actual journalism.

However, they are no doubt simply building up credibility that was lost when they published all that fake news so that people will believe them the next time they print a piece about Donald Trump pissing on hookers.