FinCEN Leaks: Tone Down the Rhetoric and Focus on Improving Banking Checks

UK PM Boris Johnson

September 22, 2020//-The FinCEN leaks underscore that banks must do much more to prevent financial crime, but also that a clear distinction must be made between legal and illegal financial practices.

This is the message from Nigel Green, the CEO and founder of deVere Group, one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organisations, as more than 2,500 documents from the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network raise concerns about what banks’ clients might be doing.

Mr Green explained: “These documents show how some of the world’s biggest banks have seemingly turned a blind eye to criminals moving dirty money around the world through their systems.

“For me, this highlights once again that these major financial institutions need to do much more and with vigour to help prevent high-level financial crime, which is a serious global problem.

“It brings up the issues of independent verification and conflict of interest within banks. Should a bank with a financial interest be allowed to make the decision on moving such large figures?

“A bizarre anomaly is that it appears that smaller amounts are often questioned, but larger figures often appear not to be.”

He continues: “Whilst banks must, evidently, do much more in this area, it is also important to make clear the distinctions between legal and illegal financial practices.

“A failure to do so muddies the waters and makes combatting financial crimes harder.

“For instance, some high-profile individuals have been accused of wrongdoing when their actions and decisions were legal at the time.

“The notion that they are ‘getting away’ with investments that were perfectly legal when they were made is, frankly, ludicrous and wholly unhelpful.

“Knowing this, some have accused these individuals of being ‘immoral’.  However, the law is not supposed to be a moral issue.

“It might very well be the case that the laws need to be overhauled, but until that point, the witch-hunt must be called-off.”

The deVere said: “Let’s tone down the rhetoric and focus on the serious issues of stamping out financial crime by implementing more robust checks and balances inside the banking system.”

UK’s reputation tarnished

Also commenting on the monumental scandal, Jane Jee, CEO, Kompli-Global noted: “In the latest scandal to hit the banking sector and severely tarnish the UK’s reputation as an ethical place to do business, leaked documents, involving about $2tn of transactions, have revealed how some of the world’s biggest banks have allowed criminals to move dirty money around the world.

Jane Jee, CEO, Kompli-Global

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released files over the weekend that were mainly Suspicious Activity Reports filed with a U.S. Treasury Department agency known as the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN”.

She added: ““The FinCEN files reveal  that banks have severely come up short through sanctions evading, failing to carry out proper Customer Due Diligence (CDD) aka  Know Your Customer (KYC) checks, ignoring publicly available evidence of wrongdoing by clients and failing  to block accounts where there was clear  suspicious activity.

  The UK is called a “higher risk jurisdiction” and compared to Cyprus, by the intelligence division of FinCEN. Over 3,000 UK companies are named in the FinCEN files – more than any other country.”

It is time for a step change

“Therefore now, more than ever, it is time for a step change in how the government, industry and regulators tackle money laundering, especially as the technology is available to prevent these scandals.

Regulated entities no longer have an excuse not to take effective action to comply with AML and related legislation. It’s time for the industry to step up and take charge – it’s not just their own profits and reputation they are risking, it’s the safety and stability of the communities around them as well –financial crime wrecks lives.”

African Eye Report


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