FinCEN Files implicate Georgian banks in money laundering leak

  • In response to the FinCEN Files investigation, the Banking Association of Georgia said that all banks in Georgia provide transaction information to the Financial Monitoring Service, and monitoring and reporting are carried out in full compliance with the laws and regulations. Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge.

Agenda.ge, 22 Sep 2020 - 12:57, Tbilisi,Georgia

Three Georgian banks – TBC Bank, Bank of Georgia and ProCredit Bank – have been named in the FinCEN Files investigation into suspicious global money laundering which was published over the weekend.

The FinCEN Files are leaked documents from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), that were investigated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), and published on September 20, 2020. 

The reports describe over 200,000 suspicious financial transactions valued at over $2 trillion that occurred from 1999 to 2017 across multiple global financial institutions.

The documents appear to show that while both the banks and the United States government had this financial intelligence, they did little to stop activities such as money laundering. The information implicates financial institutions in more than 170 countries who played a role in the facilitation of money laundering and other fraudulent crimes.

Photo: ICIJ.

The documents show how Russian oligarchs have used banks to avoid sanctions that were supposed to stop them getting their money into the West.

FinCEN Files investigation shows that even after they were prosecuted or fined for financial misconduct, banks such as JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Deutsche Bank, and Bank of New York Mellon continued to move money for suspected criminals.

As for the Georgian banks implicated in the report, TBC Bank has made 167 allegedly suspicious transactions, which have made for receipts of $1 billion and the sending of nearly $17.9 million. The Bank of Georgia received more than $8 million and sent $81,000. ProCredit Bank sent a total of $414,418 worth of transactions flagged as suspicious.

In response to the FinCEN Files investigation, the Banking Association of Georgia said that all banks in Georgia provide transaction information to the Financial Monitoring Service, and monitoring and reporting are carried out in full compliance with the laws and regulations.

Image: ICIJ.

The ICIJ report, which uses information provided by banks to the monitoring service, discusses transactions in 2007-2016, of which Georgia accounts for 0.08 per cent. It is noteworthy that the ICIJ report itself states that these transfers cannot be considered a violation without proper legal investigation. Due to their obligation to protect the privacy of their clients, banks will not be able to disclose the details of these transactions", states the association. 

The allegedly suspicious transactions were made with: the Zurich branch of Habib Bank, Uralsib Bank, Russia’s Sberbank, the National Bank of Ras in UAE and the Romanian Raiffeisenbank.

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