Leaked FinCEN files show how banks, including SA institutions, enabled flow of dirty money

The leaked files show that 173 transactions that flowed to or from banks in SA, including Standard Bank, were flagged as potentially suspicious. File photo.

Several global banks moved large sums of allegedly illicit funds during nearly two decades, despite warnings about the organisations they were dealing with, BuzzFeed and other media reported on Sunday, citing documents submitted by banks to the government.

The reports were partly based on documents filed by banks and other financial firms with the US Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), obtained by BuzzFeed News and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and other media organisations.

The FinCEN files reportedly show that 173 transactions that flowed to or from banks in SA were flagged as potentially suspicious. The banks include Standard Bank, Citibank South Africa and Standard Chartered Bank South Africa.

The ICIJ reported that the files, which they called the FinCEN files, identify more than $2-trillion (R32.6-trillion) of transactions between 1999 and 2017 that were flagged by internal compliance departments of financial institutions as possible money laundering or other criminal activity.

The organisations cited ‘suspicious activity reports’ for the investigation.

FinCEN said in a statement on its website on September 1 that it was aware that various media outlets intended to publish a series of articles based on unlawfully disclosed Suspicious Activity Reports, as well as other documents, and said that the “unauthorised disclosure of SARs is a crime that can impact the national security of the United States.”

Representatives for the US Treasury did not immediately respond to an e-mail for comment on Sunday.


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