Did the banks funnel drug money to Columbian traffickers? The International Business Times reports:
U.S.-based accounts at Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C), Deutsche Bank AG (ETR:DBK) and Bank of America Corp. (NYSE:BAC) were used to channel tens of millions of dollars’ worth of global drug money that was sent to shady Colombian currency brokerages, an affidavit from an undercover Massachusetts detective obtained recently by 100Reporters says. The revelation comes as the U.S. Justice Department has been laying down record penalties against some of the world’s largest financial institutions for trade-sanction and money laundering violations.
Representatives at the banks declined to comment to International Business Times.
The problem with a story like this, is that usually people are never encouraged to consider the history of banks repeatedly caught doing the same thing. Since the banks haven’t had their day in court yet, we can’t be sure that this particular story is true. But what we can say is that such a story, if true, is not an anomaly. It is almost standard behavior.
Consider a couple of typical posts we have written:
- Laundering Money for Drug Cartels and Other Evildoers Is Business as Usual for Banks
- International Bank Gets Away with Money Laundering for Terrorists and Drug Cartels by Philip Hodges
The document not only identifies the three banks by name but also offers a glimpse into the action-movie-like efforts narcotics traffickers used to channel global proceeds from the sale of cocaine and heroin through the United States. Couriers would sometimes stash heat-sealed bundles of currency in secret compartments of parked cars in suburban U.S. parking lots. Similar cash transfers took place on busy streets in major U.S. cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Houston and Orlando, Florida. The affidavit says one transfer took place in Rome where the cash was covered in visible cocaine residue.
The money would then be deposited, in some cases by undercover anti-narcotics agents as part of the sting operation, into accounts held by Colombian brokerage houses at the three banks in Boston and New York. These front companies would then transfer the cash to local shell companies in Colombia in the local currency to be retrieved by the operative of La Oficina de Envigado, the drug cartel that emerged from the ashes of the Medellín Cartel, which collapsed in the early 1990s.
One of the best things about the IBT story is that they do let readers know some of the background. And the article concludes,
In many cases banks are allowed to pay fines without admitting guilt, and individuals inside these banks rarely go to prison for enabling drug cartels and despots to move money around.
Right, but our prisons are filled with non-violent drug offenders who weren’t that high on the food chain but who get punished to the full extent to the law. The entire regime is corrupt to the bone.