Global banks may have helped launder $80 billion in Russian money

Author: Adam Button | Category: News

The Guardian with the report

A series of top-flight global banks assisted in helping Russian criminals launder enormous sums of money, the Guardian reports.

HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, Barclays and Coutts are among 17 banks that played a role in a scheme from 2010-2014 that laundered at least $20 billion and up to $80 billion.

An estimated 500 people were involved in laundering the money and include oligarchs, Moscow bankers and people connected to the government.

This looks like the first report in what will be a series. Leaked documents include details of about 70,000 banking transactions, including 1,920 that went through UK banks and 373 via US banks. The transactions used the offshore system to hide and move money.

Police in Latvia and Moldova began the investigation and offered some insight into the complexity of the moves.

"Typically, two firms would pretend 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 there it went to Latvia, inside the EU."

Later it was routed to companies in offshore secrecy jurisdictions.

;