UK banks ‘laundered Russian cash’
BRItIsH banks were last night accused of handling dodgy Russian cash in a giant money-laundering operation.
HsBC, Royal Bank of scotland, Lloyds and Coutts were among 17 banks that were said to have processed payments worth £600million.
the scheme, which saw at least £16billion moved out of Russia between 2010 and 2014, was run by criminals with links to the Kremlin and the Russian spy agency, according to the Guardian.
Detectives believe the true figure could be £65billion with the money being sent from Russia to Latvia and Moldova – and then around the world. One senior figure involved in the investigation said the money was ‘obviously stolen or with criminal origin’.
It is thought the operation – known as the ‘Global Laundromat’ – involved around 500 people including Moscow bankers, oligarchs and figures connected to the FsB, the successor spy agency to the KGB.
Igor Putin, the cousin of Russian president Vladimir Putin, was on the board of one of the Moscow banks involved in the fraud, according to the Guardian.
Documents are said to reveal some of the money was spent in the UK – with one wealthy Russian paying for his son’s boarding school fees at Millfield in somerset.
the records also show diamonds were bought from a jewellers in Bond street, furs from brokers in north London, and chande- liers from a boutique in Chelsea. the revelations mark yet another embarrassment for Britain’s banks, who will face questions over what they knew about the scheme and why they did not reject suspicious transfers.
the Financial Conduct Authority, the watchdog for the sector, demands banks ‘consider the money-laundering risk presented by customers, taking into account country risk, the customer’s reputation and the source of their wealth and funds’.
the report claims that HsBC processed around £440million of cash, mostly through its Hong Kong branch.
RBs – which is still 71 per cent owned by the taxpayer following the financial crisis – handled more than £90million.
All banks named in the documents said they have strict anti-laundering policies.