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CAMPAIGNERS are urging swift action from ministers in response to revelations that some of the world’s biggest banks may have moved trillions of dollars in dirty money.
A huge cache of leaked US government documents seen by BBC Panorama has unveiled the staggering scale of global financial corruption.
The leak contains more than 2,500 sensitive banking papers which cover transactions involving more than two trillion US dollars.
Key revelations include documents alleging that HSBC allowed fraudsters to move millions of dollars in stolen money around the world, even after it learned from US investigators that the scheme was a scam.
The scandal immediately hit HSBC’s shares which fell to a 25-year low today, wiping £3 billion off the bank’s value.
Panorama also found files which reportedly show that a Russian oligarch with close links to Russian President Vladimir Putin secretly funded the husband of one the Tory Party’s biggest donors.
The leaked FinCen files — reports filed with the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network — are largely made up of documents which banks must fill in if they have suspicions about a client’s dealings.
Banks must send these suspicious activity reports (SARs) but are under no obligation to shut down money-laundering when they do.
More than 3,000 British companies were named in the SARs, more than any other country.
Tax Justice Network chief executive Alex Cobham said: “As will be revealed over the coming days, many of the world’s major financial institutions have comprehensively failed to meet their own responsibilities, in the name of turning a profit — however dirty.
“Swift and robust action is needed, including potential criminal charges, or banks will simply continue to treat the prospects of being caught and fined as a simple cost of business.”
Transparency International UK chief executive Daniel Bruce said: “The government should respond rapidly to this significant investigation in order to demonstrate that the UK is serious about tackling dirty money.”
In a statement, the government insisted that it had taken “robust action” to crack down on dirty money in recent years.
“In addition, we are taking forward a series of measures to reform the Companies House register, including compulsory identity verification for directors registering companies, to help combat fraud and money laundering,” the statement continued.
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