Financial regulators must impose more heavy penalties to combat money laundering, experts argue, after an international journalism investigation alleged that astronomical amounts of dirty cash has been flowing for years through some top global banks.

A probe by BuzzFeed News and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has concluded that potentially dubious transfers worth about US$2.0 trillion took place at a host of banks between 1999 and 2017.

Profits from deadly drug wars, fortunes embezzled from developing nations and Ponzi scheme proceeds were permitted to flow through the institutions, according to the allegations published Sunday.

Five institutions – JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Deutsche Bank, and Bank of New York Mellon – were accused by the probe of continuing to move assets of alleged criminals, even after being fined for earlier failures to stem the flows.

‘Very naive’

Experts contend that the system is overly reliant on banks to report suspicious transactions.

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