Australian and international banks unwittingly participated in a suspected 500 million Australian dollar (A$500 million – US$387 million) money laundering scheme for South American cocaine cartels according to the Australian Financial Review.
It says law enforcement officers unearthed the scheme involving nine Australian and seven international banks after they noticed clear signs of trade-based money laundering (TBML).
Between 2014 and 2017 more than A$100 million of drug proceeds was funnelled through banks in Australia before the cash was routed to other destinations, including south-east Asia and the Middle East.
Law enforcement officers suspected a TBML scheme after they discovered mis-invoicing by exporters and importers.
Global cash flow
They later discovered that South American cartels sold drugs in North America then funnelled the illicit proceeds to bank accounts in Southeast Asia before they were layered through Australian bank accounts.
In Australia the proceeds were often used to buy deliberately undervalued high-end electronic products that were shipped overseas to be sold at market value, thus enabling the cartels to collect their illicit profits.
Banks unwitting participants
“Through the course of the investigation, ABF identified nine Australian financial institutions and seven international financial institutions that were unknowingly facilitating various banking and loan accounts for the suspect entities involved in the case,” the Australian Border Force (ABF) reportedly said.
None of the financial institutions involved in the suspected money laundering scheme are named by the Australian Financial Review which states that the ABF confirmed the existence of the scheme.
The Australian Financial Review report, Aussie banks laundered $500m for cocaine cartels, can be found here.
Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News