For many years, Citi was the choice of money launderers because it was like an octopus with branches all over the world.
Even this year it was reprimanded for having poor controls (ft) but now there is a new kid on the block. Standard who?
Many sources state 2-5% of the world's GDP is dirty money but life is certainly getting more difficult for those wanting to move large chunks of illegally obtained money around. With sophisticated monitoring tools and eager-to-fine regulators and bank bashers seeking blood, it is no wonder suitcases are back in fashion as well as prepaid Mastercards, back to back loans and IOUs.
The "NO NAME GIVEN" on various transactions at Standard Chartered was a signal that something wasn't right and a bank with decent returns that had avoided the worst of the "too big too fail, give me a bail out for bonuses" turns out to be controlled by the Iranians. Nice.
Behind all this of course is politics. Is all Iranian money embargoed and sanctioned? Are no countries allowed to trade with Iran? I note Iran has its own anti money laundering policies (wiki) but this is not enough and the USA is effectively at war with Iran and is trying many tactics from cyber warfare to bullying Chinese banks to close down offices in Tehran. The attack on a bank that dares trade with Iran is another way to damn those terrorists.
The USA, which always wins by the way, is behind a lot of the current shifts in focus. Following the humiliation of American Bobby Geezer being made to look pathetic over the libor fixing scandal (its gone a bit quiet don't you think? JP Morgan? DB? ML? Where are their fines?), the London Whale debacle, London's gold medal in money laundering at HSBC, the American CRAs attacking the Euro to avoid it ever being the world's reserve currency again, the Ben Bernanke printing show, the world's balance is become more unbalanced.
Now I don't know much about StanChart except it is a bit odd. It is made up of lots of banks and has offices in the awful Barbican. It is the sort of place you would work at if you couldn't get a job elsewhere. Sleepy and dull it appears not.
StanChart is a FTSE100 company and headquartered in London (wiki) so where were the FSA or Bank of England on all of this? At the Olympics it seems.
USD250BN hidden (deccanchronicle)
HuffPost has an answer (huffpost)
ECB to be caught money laundering.