JP Morgan Chase Manhattan
© Reuters / Amr Alfiky
Five major banks (Bank of New York Mellon, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, JPMorgan and Standard Chartered) processed trillions of dollars of transactions identified as suspicious, a new ICIJ report reveals.

The International Consortium for Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has released the results of an investigation based on more than 2,100 so-called suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed by banks and financial institutions with the US Department of Treasury's Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN) between 1999 and 2017. The SARs were obtained by Buzzfeed News and shared with the ICIJ.


According to the investigative organization, the megabanks continued to profit from powerful and dangerous players even after US authorities fined the financial institutions for earlier failures to stem flows of dirty money.

The documents reveal that the US-based JPMorgan moved money for people and companies tied to the massive looting of public funds in Malaysia, Ukraine and Venezuela. The ICIJ reports that tainted transactions continued to surge through accounts at JPMorgan despite the bank's promises to improve its money laundering controls as part of settlements it reached with US authorities in 2011, 2013 and 2014.

JPMorgan told the ICIJ that while the bank was legally prohibited from discussing clients or transactions, it has taken a "leadership role" in pursuing "proactive intelligence-led investigations" and developing "innovative techniques to help combat financial crime."

Bank of New York Mellon, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank also continued to wave through suspect payments despite similar promises to government authorities. In the last decade, the banks paid billions of dollars in fines and agreed to deferred prosecution agreements over failures in their anti-money-laundering programs.

Shares of the banks fell sharply in Hong Kong on Monday after the report came out, with HSBC's stock at one point trading at its lowest level since 1995.