UK daily The Guardian claims that billions of dollars of laundered Russian money were moved out of the country in an operation dubbed ‘Global Laundromat’, with anonymously-owned UK companies playing a lead role.
The paper states that documents seen show that at least US$20bn was moved out of Russia over the four year period 2010 to 2014 and the true figure could be US$80bn.
UK banks, including the ‘big four’ of HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Lloyds and Barclays, processed nearly US$740m from a money laundering operation run by Russian criminals with links to the Russian government and the KGB, according to The Guardian.
It adds that they face questions over what they knew about the international scheme dubbed “the Global Laundromat” and their willingness to accept suspect transfers of money that was “obviously either stolen or with criminal origin”.
HSBC is believed to have processed US$545.3m in Laundromat cash, mostly routed via its Hong Kong branch, while RBS handled US$113.1m and Coutts accepted US$32.8m worth of payments via its Swiss office in Zurich. US banks reportedly processed more than US$63.7m, including Citibank (US$37m) and Bank of America (US$14m).
The Global Laundromat banking records were obtained by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and Russian paper Novaya Gazeta, which shared the data with media partners in 32 countries. The documents include details of about 70,000 banking transactions, including 1,920 that went through UK banks and 373 via US banks.
Detectives are reported to have conducted investigations in 96 countries, uncovering a network of anonymously-owned firms, most of which were registered in Companies House in London. Most of the 21 core companies investigated have now been dissolved.
A typical transaction would involve two firms, one pretending to lend money to one another, with the sums underwritten by Russian businesses. One company would then “default” on the loan. Judges would certify the “debt” as authentic, allowing the Russian businesses to send cash to an account in Moldova, from where it went to Latvia, inside the European Union (EU).
Criticisms of bitcoin by JP Morgan Chase’s boss have been denounced by a UK academic as “ironic” and “hardly surprising” considering the impact bitcoin could have on financial intermediaries.
Leaked documents from the UK Home Office proposing that low-skilled EU migrants would be restricted in the UK’s post-Brexit immigration scheme may be more likely to increase automation and off-shoring of labour, rather than increase British wages, industry experts have warned.
The European Central Bank's (ECB) hotly anticipated meeting on Thursday afternoon made the euro skyrocket, as president Mario Draghi announced interest rates would remain at 0% and its quantitative easing programme will stay until at least the end of 2017.
The “sad truth” of banking is that many jobs will be automated in the future, Deutsche Bank's chief executive said yesterday. Despite this, a recent survey found that 98% of European workers are optimistic about the changes automation will bring to their workplace.