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Top 5 Money Laundering Cases of The Last 30 Years

Top 5 money laundering cases of the last 30 years

5. HSBC – £5.57 Billion Estimated

  • Back in 2012, with insufficient money laundering regulations, HSBC forfeited £1.2 billion. 
  • This was followed by a US Senate article, which stated that HSBC had, among other things:
  • some banks in Saudi Arabia, despite their relation to terrorist financing, provided banking services and American dollars
  • dodge limits on the prevention of foreign sanctions against transactions involving Iran, North Korea, and other countries
  • HSBC USA did not treat its Mexican counterpart as high risk even though it has a drug and money laundering problem.
  • Control problems such as these allowed for the laundering of at least seven years of an estimated £5.57 billion.
  • HSBC was able to conclude a deferred five-year contract of prosecution or DPA, which is mainly like probation. 
  • The US government could have lost its dollar license if it had brought charges against HSBC.

4. BCCI – GBP 17.6 Billion Estimated

  • In the mid-80s, it appears that, for an approximate amount of 17,6 billion £, BCCI and its customers have conducted fraud and financial laundering worldwide.
  • BCCI is a famous banker of gun dealers, drug cartels, and dictators. Indeed, relations in many countries ranged from challenged to completely corrupt in different countries, from Argentina to Zimbabwe.
  • A sub-committee of the US Senate was then formed in 1988 to review reports of the involvement of BCCI in money laundering. 
  • In 1990, the bank laundered and fined £11.3 million. In 1990 the Bank was convicted.
  • That has stated that over many years there has been “proof of massive and widespread fraud.” Around a month later, foreign regulators were shut down BCCI when its creditors were already owed over £10 billion.
  • It seems like the BCCI has used a range of complicated methods to cover up its operations, primarily through the use of shell enterprises, secrecy, and organizational structures. 
  • It was also interwoven with kickbacks, bribes, and well-positioned insiders who might prevent public action.
  • In 1991, the Bank of England directed Price Waterhouse to carry out an inquiry into BCCI.
  • This is one of the reasons Gordon Brown transfers the banking regulation of the Bank of England to the Financial Services Regulator when he became UK Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1997.

3. Nauru – GBP 53.7 Billion Expected

  • Currently, Nauru is northeast of Australia a phosphate rock island. 
  • As the phosphate reserves were exhausted, however, the island switched to off-shore banking, which culminated in the registering of off-shore financial institutions “no questions asked.” 
  • In 1993 this led to a position as a fiscal paradise.
  • In 1998, the shell banks of Nauru washed off the Russian criminals an estimated £53.7 billion. 
  • They were able to do so as Nauru reportedly permitted its banks to operate without checking their customers’ identities or asking where the funds had been deposited.
  • This led to US sanctions imposed on Nauru, which were tougher than those imposed on Iran by the US Treasury and Financial Crimes Compliance Network. 
  • Nevertheless, Nauru has been working since 2001 to clean-up his deed and welcomed help from Australia in return for hosting an Asylum-seeker Detention Centre.
  • The sanctions were lifted in 2005 when Nauru was excluded from his ‘blank list’ by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) after its 400 shell banks were abolished.

2. Normal Chartered – GBP 191,8 Billion Approximate

  • In 2012, the German bank Standard Chartered was accused of helping the government to bypass the laws of US money laundering to an estimated £191.8 billion over ten years by the New York Department of Financial Service (DFS).
  • For deficiencies in the anti-cash laundering control measures and for breaching US sanctions on Iran, Burma, Liberia, and Sudan, the DFS and the US Department of Justice charged a civil penalty of £262,000,000 in 2012.
  • In 2014, it had to pay an additional £232m in civil fines for internal checks of the bank which did not flag suspicious transactions. 
  • The regulator claimed that, after commitments in the 2012 settlement, the bank had not changed its processes. 
  • It has also been pressured to discontinue operations in its United Arab Emirates division, such as exiting some high-risk customers.

1. Wachovia – £292.5 Billion Estimated

  • Wachovia (now part of Wells Fargo), one of the largest banks in America in 2010 entered into a DPA (which has expired since then) after the Bank Secrecy Act was extended to the largest ever action.
  • The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) began an investigation in 2005.
  • During the investigation, the Mexican cartels were discovered to smuggle U.S. dollars and export illicit drugs through the borders of Mexico.
  • The money was then donated to the money exchangers who deposited it in their bank accounts in Mexico. 
  • Mexican banks (as their regulatory requirements weren’t comparable to the US) had not investigated the origin of the money and thus allowed criminals to put their illegitimate income on the legitimate sector.
  • These funds were then moved back to the accounts of Wachovia in America, whose origin was not verified again. 
  • All banknotes remaining in the form of a bulk cheque service offered by Wachovia to their correspondents have been shipped back to America.
  • Through using the two Wachovia techniques, offenders were able to incorporate their illicit funds into the financial system, then return them to their country of origin.
  • Wachovia paid an amount of £123.7 million to the federal authorities to fail voluntarily to develop the AML program and subsequently authorized the transfer from Mexican money exchangers or Casas de Cambio to Mexico of the approximate £292.5 billion into dollar accounts with which it worked from 2004 to 2007.

This included up to 10 million pounds for buying airplanes used for the drug trade – over 20,000 kilograms of cocaine were seized on Wakhovi’s corresponding bank accounts – from those aircraft.


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