An article published by the financial times opened with a startlingly precise line: “Money laundering is rapidly becoming America’s favourite elite crime.” It seems true. There are numerous reports and studies out there to suggest that money laundering is on the rise.
From the infamous Enron scandal of the early 2000s to the more recent allegations of money laundering within the Trump Organization, it’s clear that it has become the white collar crime of choice. But it’s not an American problem. Institutions from all industries and all countries have willingly stomped their feet in the muck that is money laundering.
Commonwealth Bank Of Australia
In August 2017, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac) announced that it would sue Commonwealth bank for 53,700 breaches of money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws. The scandal dates back to the 2012.
The bank has been accused of not reporting $77 million worth of suspicious transactions to Austrac. Allegedly, the Commonwealth’s intelligent deposit machines (a type of ATM) were being used by as many as four money laundering syndicates. Three of those organizations had links to illegal drug importation.
Currently, Commonwealth Bank faces a $700 million lawsuit.
Danske Bank, which translates to “Danish Bank”, allegedly laundered as much as $8.3 billion between 2007 and 2015. This is significantly higher than what investigators originally estimated. Shares have fallen significantly as one would expect, dropping 6.3% to 117.30 Danish crowns – close to the lowest level since the summer of 2016.
The investigation into this laundering case is ongoing.
The world’s largest and most successful cryptocurrency has been the target of crime and controversy for several years now. But one overlooked case involving money laundering, namely, with a payment processing company, BitInstant.
The company’s creator, Charlie Shrem, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering among others back in 2014. Shrem, who was just 24 years-old at the time, faced his brush with the law after he failed to alert authorities about a customer who was reselling Bitcoin for illicit drugs on the now defunct, Silk Road marketplace.
BitInstant was shut down and Shrem went on to serve a year-long sentence in prison. He has since been released, worked a job as a dishwasher and now has re-established himself as an executive at a tech firm.
In November 2017, a report emerged regarding the operations of criminal transactions now called the “Vancouver Model”. It involves the criminal syndicates that run chemical factors in China, namely The Triads, who ship narcotics such as fentanyl into Vancouver. They are washing money into British Columbia’s casinos and real estate markets to cover their tracks.
Underground banks along the southern coast of China are funding much of the activity, and have reserves of currencies worldwide. Unfortunately, many of those who participate in these networks include lawyers, bankers and business owners stationed in Hong Kong, Macau and Vancouver.
“Operation Car Wash”
Some of you are now well aware of the nation-wide corruption taking place within Brazil’s various levels of government. “Operation Car Wash” is not a money laundering scandal itself, but rather, an ongoing investigation carried out by Brazilian police to uncover money laundering cases that threaten the country’s government.
All 20 parties in the Brazilian Congress have been tarnished by corruption. At its core, the scandal revolves around companies who perform services and then heavily inflate their contracts, offering kickbacks to the politicians and the parties who support those companies. Investigators have traced the origins of the scandal to state-owned oil company, Petrobras.
Former presidents Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Lula da Silva, have both been under investigation since 2014 for their alleged involvement. They both have denied all claims. Several other officials, in the corporate and political spheres, are also under investigation or facing prison sentences.
Money Laundering Has No Bounds
Money laundering has become a 21st-century scourge that threatens virtually every industry in the world. It is not restricted to certain countries, corporations or communities – every sector has its bad apples who will exploit their circumstances for personal gain.
This reality reinforces the need for executives, managers and employees of all levels to embrace a culture of transparency and ethics. The corporations who push for such an environment will have an easier time weeding out criminals. They can even prevent such activities from taking place within their walls altogether.