Dirty money pours into the world’s most powerful banks. And the government doesn’t stop the banks.

A huge trove of secret government documents reveals for the first time how the giants of Western banking move trillions of dollars in suspicious transactions,

Enriching themselves and their shareholders while facilitating the work of terrorists, kleptocrats, and drug kingpins.

And the US government, despite its vast powers, fails to stop it.

Today, the FinCEN Files — thousands of “suspicious activity reports” and other US government documents

Offer an unprecedented view of global financial corruption, the banks enabling it, and the government agencies that watch as it flourishes.

BuzzFeed News has shared these reports with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and more than 100 news organizations in 88 countries.

These documents, compiled by banks, shared with the government, but kept from public view,

Expose the hollowness of banking safeguards, and the ease with which criminals have exploited them.

Profits from deadly drug wars, fortunes embezzled from developing countries,

And hard-earned savings stolen in a Ponzi scheme were all allowed to flow into and out of these financial institutions,

Despite warnings from the banks’ own employees.


Money laundering is a crime that makes other crimes possible.

It can accelerate economic inequality, drain public funds, undermine democracy, and destabilize nations and the banks play a key role.

“Some of these people in those crisp white shirts in their sharp suits are feeding off the tragedy of people dying all over the world,”

Said Martin Woods, a former suspicious transactions investigator for Wachovia.

Laws that were meant to stop financial crime have instead allowed it to flourish.

So long as a bank files a notice that it may be facilitating criminal activity,

It all but immunizes itself and its executives from criminal prosecution.

The suspicious activity alert effectively gives them a free pass to keep moving the money and collecting the fees.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, is the agency within the Treasury Department charged with combating money laundering,

terrorist financing, and other financial crimes.

It collects millions of these suspicious activity reports, known as SARs.

It makes them available to US law enforcement agencies and other nations’ financial intelligence operations.

It even compiles a report called “Kleptocracy Weekly” that summarizes the dealings of foreign leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin.

What it does not do is force the banks to shut the money laundering down.

In the rare instances when the US government does crack down on banks,

It often relies on sweetheart deals called deferred prosecution agreements, which include fines but no high-level arrests.

The Trump administration has made it even harder to hold executives personally accountable,

Under guidance by former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein that warned government agencies against “piling on.”

But the 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.


Suspicious payments flow around the world and into countless industries,

From international sports to Hollywood entertainment to luxury real estate to Nobu sushi restaurants.

They filter into the companies that make familiar items from people’s lives, from the gas in their car to the granola in their cereal bowl.

The FinCEN Files expose an underlying truth of the modern era:

The networks through which dirty money traverse the world have become vital arteries of the global economy.

They enable a shadow financial system so wide-ranging

And so unchecked that it has become inextricable from the so-called legitimate economy.

Banks with household names have helped to make it so.

The Standard Chartered headquarters in London.

A JPMorgan Chase location in New York City.

BuzzFeed News’ investigation shows that:……..

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