How do Criminals Launder Money through American Banks?

on Jul29

28 July 2017 | 3:00 pm

The US mainstream media’s obsession with President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia continue as new reports surface about how Russian mafia groups launder money through his real estate holdings.

The New Republic recently reported how the Russian mafia has used the president’s properties, including Trump Tower and the Trump Taj Mahal, to launder money and hide assets. They write, “Russian mobsters and corrupt oligarchs used his properties not only to launder vast sums of money from extortion, drugs, gambling, and racketeering, but even as a base of operations for their criminal activities.”

The journalist who wrote the story told Democracy Now that since Trump has been president, in the last six months, about 70 percent of the sales in his buildings have gone to shell companies, identity unknown.

Trump’s ties to the Russian mob have been well documented in David Cay Johnston’s book The Making of Donald Trump which we reviewed in this newspaper last year before the election.

However, laundering criminal money is what our top banks do every day.

Investigators discovered that Russian mobsters were laundering billions of dollars through the Bank of New York in 1999 (when Vladimir Putin became Russian president). The bank, one of the oldest in America, acknowledged the funds came from Russia. Some accounts were linked to Semyon Mogilevich, a big-time Russian organized criminal, who American media connect to Putin and Trump.

The Bank of NY agreed to pay $38 million in penalties (even though they estimated the bank laundered more than $10 billion – CRIME PAYS!!) related to the allegations of money laundering after a six-year investigation.

But that scandal reminded one reporter of another federal probe of Washington D.C.’s Riggs Bank, which paid $41 million in damages after discovering the bank helped former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet hide millions of dollars from prosecutors. Pinochet was considered his country’s top drug trafficker!

It is a known fact that the big drug cartels south of our border launder their money through our top banks such as JP Morgan, Bank of America and Western Union.

The Justice Department said that HSBC allowed the most notorious international drug cartels to launder billions of dollars across borders.

But despite the fact that the British banking giant admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others) and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act), the Justice Department elected not to pursue criminal prosecutions of the bank, opting instead for a “record” financial settlement of $1.9 billion, which one analyst noted is about five weeks of income for the bank, Rolling Stone reported.

Here’s an amazing finding from the HSBC investigation. They said drug dealers would sometimes come to HSBC’s Mexican branches and deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, in a single day, into a single account, using boxes designed to fit the precise dimensions of the teller windows.

“This bears repeating: in order to more efficiently move as much illegal money as possible into the ‘legitimate’ banking institution HSBC, drug dealers specifically designed boxes to fit through the bank’s teller windows,” Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone wrote. “Tony Montana’s henchmen marching dufflebags of cash into the fictional ‘American City Bank’ in Miami was actually more subtle than what the cartels were doing when they washed their cash through one of Britain’s most storied financial institutions.”

Federal and state authorities chose not to indict HSBC, the London-based bank, on charges of vast and prolonged money laundering, for fear that criminal prosecution would topple the bank and, in the process, endanger the financial system.

So why are they upset with Trump and his money laundering today? Apparently it’s a criminal operation that does not need to be punished.

By Jim Vail


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