It just doesn’t let up with these banks….
“Three people with knowledge of the matter” told Reuters that Singapore’s central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), is “scrutinizing,” as Reuters put it, several banks over suspicions that they broke anti-money-laundering rules in processing transactions of the scandal-infested Malaysian state-owned fund 1MDB.
The banks include UBS, DBS Group Holdings, Falcon Private Bank, and Coutts International. DBS is based in Singapore. The other three are based in Switzerland.
The 1MDB scandal revolves around $4.2 billion that, according to a Malaysian parliamentary investigation earlier this year, went missing or ended up in overseas accounts whose owners couldn’t be determined. These transactions were all processed by banks. In 2013, $681 million appeared in the personal account of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who also served as chairman of 1MDB until recently. Najib has denied any wrongdoing – it was a gift from a member of the Saudi royal family, he’d claimed. And Malaysia’s Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali cleared him in January of corruption or criminal offences.
So, according to Reuters:
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is looking at several aspects of the banks’ operations including whether they were diligent enough in knowing who their customers were and what the source of their funds was, and whether they were particularly careful in screening politically-exposed persons such as government officials, banking and legal sources aware of the review said.
The MAS is in talks with several banks and will make an announcement on any punitive action against them after the review is completed, sources said. The full details are not known at this stage.
UBS has been embroiled in all kinds of banking scandals around the world, including with the FBI, the SEC, and the IRS in the US starting in 2005, based on an informant, alleging that the bank was providing tax-evasion services to citizens of various countries. UBS eventually settled some of those charges. Other scandals broke to the surface, one after the other, including forex and Libor scandals, and UBS has been busy settling those too.
So a new scandal is just what the doctor ordered, particularly since these transactions likely happened fairly recently, after many of the other scandals had already become public.
Falcon Private Bank is owned by Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund, International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC). Coutts International is owned by Swiss-based Union Bancaire Privée.
DBS Group Holdings, formerly known as Development Bank of Singapore, is a multinational bank with US$330 billion in assets, or about 75% of Singapore’s GDP! If this bank collapses, Singapore’s finances are toast.
UBS, Coutts, and DBS refused to comment. Falcon, which had previously said that it was in contact with the MAS and cooperating, told Reuters: “We have transparently shared our view and have nothing to add.”
Singapore, long one of the most opaque financial centers in the world, is under international pressure – and just from the US – to crack down on these obscure money-flows.
For example, back in 2013, French Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac was forced to resign after media reports alleged – and he later confessed after furiously denying it – that he’d hidden €600,000 in income from French tax authorities via an account in Switzerland, and when its bank-secrecy laws began to crack, by transferring this money to Singapore. He was supposed to face criminal trial in February this year (which has since been moved to September).
These transactions were all processed by banks. But the scandal of 1MBD is so huge that it just keeps digging a bigger hole. Reuters:
The latest probes follow MAS’s decision in late May to close down the operations of Swiss private bank BSI AG in Singapore for serious breaches of anti-money laundering rules, the first time in 32 years it has taken such action against a bank. MAS said then that there had been gross misconduct by some of BSI’s staff and poor management oversight of the bank’s operations.
At the time, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority said that, according to Reuters, “BSI had committed serious breaches of money laundering regulations through business relationships and transactions linked to the corruption scandal surrounding 1MDB.”
Singapore’s authorities must have known for years that these sorts of things were standard private-banking practice in their bailiwick. But now they’re under pressure to crack down on transactions related to money laundering, tax evasion, and international sanctions. And they’re under pressure to slap global banks like UBS on the wrist, and maybe even on both wrists, so that these banks, in the future, would try a little harder not to get caught so easily.
Not that the US Department of Justice is a model when it comes to punishing banks for even the most egregious violations of money-laundering and sanctions laws. HSBC was up to its neck into them, and outside of a fine – just another cost of doing business – nothing happened. So here are the results of a 3-year investigation by the US House of Representatives into why the Justice Department failed to hold HSBC and its executives accountable. Read… Congress: “Too Big to Jail: Inside the Obama Justice Department’s Decision Not to Hold Wall Street Accountable”
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Banks are nothing more than organized criminal operations on a massive scale. Their profitability is mainly derived from criminal operations few of which ever come to light. On the rare occasion where they are caught red-handed they pay tax-deductible fees to the government and continue doing criminal business as usual.
“they pay tax-deductible fees”
Slap on the wrist fines. Who pays this money? Where does it come from?
The banks investors. The stock holders. Who are they?
Pension funds, Mom & Pop savings, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds, company portfolios, etc.
No skin in the game for the bank and they get to keep all the profits made by their criminal activity. Won’t change. Big money gets what big wants.
Yes. “Socialization of losses and privatization of profits” is the very essence of crony capitalism aka state-sponsored Fascism. They do have to pay a portion of their profits to the Democratic-Republican Party for protection.
That is why they are installing Hillary. The Clinton’s have always been the bankers friends going way back to the early days of Jackson and Witt Stephens in Arkansas. Jackson was Rob & Sam Walton’s financier quail hunting buddy, I was working new store set ups and grand openings so therefore had occasional long conversations with even Sam. Learning a bit about how the deep state works at a very young age. Henry Ross Perot was doing his own investigation into Mena and how things in Arkansas really went. So Bubba got the call to be a hedge against whatever Perot was up to.
Arkansas has been a hot bed of criminal activity for a long time. The mob families in Hot Springs practically raised Bubba. But you folks probably know that.
Gregg you had better stay away from skyscraper balconies and nail guns after you truthful comment
Who’s to blame? The banks that take the money, or the governments with lax rules and regulations that allow it in the first place? Singapore is a hub for Chinese money laundering, that won’t change…but USB might lose business.
DBS is 11% owned by Temasek, Singapore’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, who in turn in chaired by Ho Ching, the wife to the PM of Singapore.
DBS turning bust? LOL, hell will freeze over first. If need be, they’ll call the other bankers like OCBC, UOB, Hong Leong, etc to bail out DBS.
“Singapore’s authorities must have known for years that these sorts of things were standard private-banking practice in their bailiwick.” Exactly, and in turn the Lee family knows all of the local bankers’ dirty laundries. When the government comes calling, the bankers will come running.
Best source for info on the 1MDB scandal is the site that has exposed much of the skullduggery in Malaysia, sarawakreport.org
Singapore’s Sovereign Wealth Fund ? I thought Jim Rogers packed his bags, left New York, said farewell to George Soros, and went to Singapore to manage the governments money and Singapore’s Sovereign Wealth Fund.
Jim, have anything to add here?
All this must be a big mistake or misunderstanding.
Is this the same Jim Rogers who lost his customers’ shirts by convincing them in 2008 oil would get to $150/bbl by January 2009?
Jim Rogers has never been involved in Singapore Wealth Funds. He manages his own money.
Never trust a man who wears a bow-tie.
Banks are extensions of the governments with which they reside. That is what has happened as a result of ‘globalization’. Anyone doubt that the biggest US banks aren’t in bed with the Fed/Treasury, etc.? They do the behind the scenes dirty work to manipulate the markets at the governments deem necessary.
Thanks for your fact-filled and well documented accusation, which fully demonstrates your intellectual grip on what’s happening.
Wow – Thanks for the Sarawak Report link. Sometimes the truth is stranger than any fiction you could possibly make up.
“Fugitive billionaire Jho Low, who stole hundreds of millions from 1MDB, has been recorded on social media entertaining his gang of friends and co-conspirators to the most extravagant imaginable partying and waste in a series of New Year bashes across the globe. The jaw-dropping debauchery even included renting two jumbo jets so that the looters could “double-countdown” 2013 – by celebrating New Year in both Sydney and Las Vegas on the same day.”
I hope ‘scrutiny’ from Singapore investigators helps them get to the bottom of this and prosecute for the people of Malaysia.
Let’s be completely cynical. Will any of this ever stop? Or is it just an excuse to stop everyone on the border or stop them on the highway to seize cash, (which even if you do get it back could cost you a fortune) because you ‘may’ be ‘laundering’ it, though you may be just wanting to have cash for your holiday, road trip, or relocation. Misnomers in legislation are traditional, but the ‘Bank Secrecy Act’ has to be one of the classics – whereas you used to have some degree of privacy, now there is none.
I don’t care if some politician cashes in and usually never gets caught, or some bank helps him. I’m not envious; I just consider what I need, not what anyone else has. Like the other 99.999% of the population in the world I just want to go to my bank, withdraw a couple of thousand, and not be treated like a criminal (“What do you want it for?”), just because the authorities can abuse normal, law-abiding citizens like myself who pay all their taxes and behave well. But then that’s who you control – the easy ones; for the lawyered up bad ones, it’s just business as usual.
Keep in mind that most of these ‘criminal’ violations involve shielding money from tax collectors, who by law arbitrarily steal some percentage of the fortunes that people make by creating wealth and employment, unlike those same governments who destroy wealth and create no employment – they may hire more unnecessary bureaucrats, but that’s just a destruction of wealth too, isn’t it? But we are psychologically conditioned to think that these confiscations are justified, and that to evade them is to diminish the amount of money that the government can spend to buy votes (instead of reducing their spending list) – and this the true ‘crime’.
Oh dear, I’m on the radar now. But I’m old anyway, and I’m glad I’m the age I am …
“Najib has denied any wrongdoing – it was a gift from a member of the Saudi royal family, he’d claimed. And Malaysia’s Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali cleared him in January of corruption or criminal offences.”
There must be a parallel universe somewhere on this planet.
Mohamed Apandi Ali Must have attended the same law school as James Comly.