Germany’s largest bank Deutsche Bank is no stranger to scandals. But the leaked FinCEN files suggest the bank was aware it was facilitating suspicious transactions amounting to over $1 trillion dollars, including for a period after it had promised to clean up its act. Deutsche Bank accounts for 62% of all Suspicious Activities Reports (SARs) filed to FinCEN in the leaked documents.
Between 1999 and 2017, $2 trillion (€1.68 trillion) in transactions were flagged by financial institutions’ internal compliance officers as suspicious. Reasons include possibly money laundering, sanctions violations or other criminal activities. Of these, $1.3 trillion (€1.09 trillion) worth of transactions passed through Deutsche Bank, which reported the activities to FinCEN.
This is not the first time Deutsche Bank has been implicated in suspicious money transfers. In 2015 it agreed to a $258 million fine for violating US sanctions. A probe by US and New York banking regulators found the bank had moved $10.9 billion (€9.2 billion) on behalf of Iranian, Libyan, Syrian, Burmese and Sudanese financial institutions sanctioned by the US between 1999 and 2006. The bank was accused of carrying out transactions for its customers using "non-transparent methods and practices" to disguise its actions.
Deutsche Bank has been penalized many times in the past for facilitating suspicious activities. So why would they continue even after the hefty penalty of $258 million in 2015? For Tim White, a consultant at AML Right Source, an anti-money laundering consulting firm, the answer is simple: Money. White says that "by going ahead with these suspicious transactions, banks are making more money than the possible cost of the violations."
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