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With Britain having overtaken the US and Spain as the world's biggest consumer of coc aine per capita, the Wachovia investigation showed much of the drug money is also laundered through the City of London, where the principal Wachovia whistleblower, Martin Woods, was based in the bank's anti-laundering office. He was wrongfully dismissed after sounding the alarm.
Gaviria said: "We know that authorities in the US and UK know far more than they act upon. The authorities realise things about certain people they think are moving money for the drug trade – but the DEA [US Drugs Enforcement A
Originally posted by RandalFlagg
If the Government wanted to win the war on drugs
reply to post by longjohnbritches
Then we realized that the real weak link was the couriers in the smuggling rings.
As Wells Fargo has grown over the years, using its bailout funds to gobble up rival Wachovia and expand to the East Coast, so has the U.S. prison population. By 2008, one in 100 American adults were either in jail or in prison – and one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34, many simply for non-violent offenses, justice not so much blind as bigoted.
Overall, more than 2.3 million people are currently behind bars, up 50 percent in the last 15 years, the land of the free now accounting for a full quarter of the world’s prisoners. These developments are not unrelated. A driving force behind the push for ever-tougher sentences is the for-profit prison industry, in which Wells Fargo is a major investor. Flush with billions in bailout money and an economic system designed to siphon wealth from the working class to the idle rich, Wells Fargo has been busy expanding its stake in the GEO Group, the second largest private jailer in America. At the end of 2011, Wells Fargo was the company’s second-largest investor, holding 4.3 million shares valued at more than $72 million. By March 2012, its stake had grown to more than 4.4 million shares worth $86.7 million.
Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organised crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result
Sir Callum said: "There is increasing evidence that organised criminal groups are placing their own people in financial services firms." "They can increase their knowledge of firms' systems and controls and thus learn how to circumvent them to commit their frauds."
BCCI was established in 1972 with capital from the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed, and the Bank of America
Yet, the bank was insolvent from the 1970s and its top managers had been manipulating the accounts concealing losses, keeping deposits off the books, hiding illegal BCCI investments in United States financial institutions, and generating false profits. Loans to the Gulf Group of shipping companies,3 which were larger than BCCI's capital base, were not serviced causing unsustainable costs of over $1 billion in the 1980s. An additional $1 billion losses were incurred in BCCI's treasury department.
As the liquidators suggested that several billion dollars were unaccounted for and investigations into BCCI's practices intensified and multiplied, an unparalleled international scandal was fuelled by press reports about BCCI's banking services to money launderers, drug traffickers, arms dealers, coffee smugglers, tax evaders, political offenders, dictators, and intelligence agencies around the globe.4
It provided banking services, held accounts for, or was publicly associated with, heads or former heads of governments (James Callaghan,7 Willy Brandt, Alan Garcia of Peru, Jimmy Carter, among many others), intelligence agencies and agents (for example, the CIA, Kamal Adham,8 Richard Helms, William Casey)9 international organizations (such as the United Nations) and public relations firms (Hill and Knowlton), ambassadors (for example, Andrew Young, Sergio da Costa of Brazil), highlevel politicians (for example, United States Senator Orrin Hatch, former Senator John Culver - five British Tories, including Sir Julian Ridsdale, were BCCI consultants),10 and influential business people and bankers (including Larry Romrell, Bob Magness - founder of TCI, the largest United States cable company - David Paul, Jackson Stephens, Alfred Hartmann, Yves Lamarche).
The lawyers and lobbyists that represented BCCI in the United States of America included former Federal Reserve officials, federal prosecutors, and former high-level military officers, senators or government officials, including Clark Clifford, the counsel to Democratic Presidents from Truman to Carter.
The Kerry investigation into the Noriega-BCCI relationship, did not proceed smoothly. M. Pillsbury, an aid to Republican Senator Hatch was advising BCCI on lobbying strategya nd on how to deal with Kerry.31A s irdicated by BCCI lawyers' notes, Kerry's interest was not in BCCI by itself:
[According to Pillsbury] Senator Kerry wants to be praised for what he has done on money laundering; especially by conservative Republicans. His only interest in BCCI is to get info re: Noriega and get credit for his work.
In the face of opposition from various parties including within Kerry's own Committee on Foreign Relations, the section on BCCI was left out of the final report with only a recommendation of further investigation
The Iran-Contra transactions were over and so was the Iran-Iraq war (both sides were secretly, illegally, or against overt foreign policy assisted by the United States of America, partly through BCCI). In addition, clients of BCCI such as Noriega, Duvalier, Somosa, Saddam Hussein were now overthrown or demonized by the West and the United States in particular. Ironically, such clients, who would have provided clout and enhanced BCCI's power in the past because they were allies and friends of the United States, increasingly became sources of weakness and vulnerability.
Evidence available to the Bank of England and other regulatory agencies could have justified the closure of BCCI much earlier than they did. Yet, BCCI could not be attacked before the end of the Gulf War. By 1991, however, Iraq was defeated by an alliance that depended heavily on the Arab support. It would be unlikely for regulatory agencies to engage in actions that could jeopardiset he alliance by embarrassing or antagonizing the owners of BCCI, the authorities of Abu Dhabi.42 Action that risked damaging the relations with the ruling elites in Abu Dhabi or Saudi Arabia43 - wealthy and eager backers of anti-communist activities- would have been blocked by foreign policy makers during the Cold or the Gulf Wars. The Financial Times argued that earlier action against BCCI' would scarcely have pleased the Foreign Office
It is, however, perfectly legal to carry, say, $50,000 embedded in the magnetic stripes of so-called pre-paid stored-value cards. They look like a credit or debit card but are not linked to a bank account, can in many cases be loaded anonymously, are not “monetary instruments” under U.S. law, and were labelled “the ideal instrument for large-scale drug trafficking and money-laundering operations” in a 2006 analysis by the National Drug Intelligence Center. It predicted that drug traffickers, narco-terrorists and other criminals would increasingly rely on stored-value cards — “superior to established methods of money laundering” — because they could be used without fear of documentation, identification, law enforcement suspicion or seizure.
In other words, a shot in the arm of the global money laundering industry, an illicit enterprise that accounts for between 2 and 5 percent of the world’s GDP, according to an estimate by the International Monetary Fund. The Center’s dark warnings did little to curb the rapid growth of the stored-value card industry — more than $300 billion a year by some estimates.
So if the cards are such a threat, why is there no regulation? It is a question two senators, Joseph Lieberman and Susan Collins, asked in a February 16 letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. The two, respectively the chairman and the ranking member of the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, last year authored an amendment to close the stored-value card loophole. The amendment became part of an act on credit card accountability and disclosure President Barack Obama signed into law on May 22 last year.
The amendment stipulated that the Treasury Department work out regulations on the sale, issuance, redemption and international transportation of stored value cards within 270 days. The deadline lapsed on February 16 and the letter asks for an explanation for the delay in issuing rules. So far, there has been no reply. It’s not clear whether the delay is due to bureaucratic inertia, overwork in a Treasury Department busy with a deep financial crisis, or, as money laundering expert Charles Intriago put it, “a manifestation of the unhealthy power of big money, financial institutions and their lobbyists.”