A Massive Trove of Newly Leaked Documents Shows How Big Banks Help Criminals Move Dirty Money

BuzzFeed News just published an investigation detailing how banks facilitated “the work of terrorists, kleptocrats, and drug kingpins.”

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On Sunday, BuzzFeed News published an investigative report showing how some of the world’s most powerful banks were aware of—but failed to stop—suspicious transactions totaling more than $2 trillion. Banks profited from these transactions, “facilitating the work of terrorists, kleptocrats, and drug kingpins,” BuzzFeed writes, and the US government, though aware, rarely intervened.

The investigation was based on a leak of more than 2,100 documents dubbed the “FinCEN Files” that BuzzFeed shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. FinCEN stands for the US Financial Crimes Investigation Network, an agency at the Treasury Department. Banks flag suspicious transactions made in US dollars to the agency, but most are not investigated; meanwhile, just by filing a report, a bank “all but immunizes itself and its executives from criminal prosecution,” BuzzFeed writes. 

A trove of those reports, from transactions between 1999 and 2017, make up the FinCEN Files. Journalists digging into the documents found that they documented transactions facilitating suspected Russian and Taliban money launderers, a Ponzi scheme, and corrupt politicians. Meanwhile, even banks that were previously fined for failing to stop the flow of dirty money—including JPMorgan, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank, and Bank of New York Mellon—continued the same behavior, and continued to profit from it. 

Read the investigations here and here

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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