Monday, March 1, 2021

Jho Low among 10,000 names in RM8 trillion dirty money expose

At least 25 people named in the files appeared on Forbes' list of billionaires in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

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Major banks including Citibank, HSBC and Standard Chartered have been named as parties which allowed criminals to move dirty money worth US$2 trillion over the years, leaked documents on suspicious activity reports, or SARs filed to the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), reveal.

The documents provide details linked to more than 10,000 people and organisations in over 170 countries.

Investigations by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and BuzzFeed News showed that at least 25 people named in the files appeared on Forbes’ list of billionaires in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Spanning some 22,000 pages, the FinCEN files also named Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, a key player in the 1MDB scandal, confirming earlier claims of US bank JP Morgan’s involvement in the scandal.

The leaked records show that Jho Low moved over US$1.2 billion (RM4.1 billion) through JPMorgan from 2013 to 2016.

Low has been accused by authorities in several countries of laundering money through Goldman Sachs and other banks to acquire artwork, expensive real estate and a luxury yacht.

According to the FinCEN files, banks in the US have reported 103 suspicious money transfers totalling US$2.53 billion involving companies linked to Jho Low and 1MDB.

BuzzFeed News and ICIJ have made public some of the 2,000 leaked documents on their website.

“These documents are so closely protected that they are never supposed to be available to the public. You can’t get them through Freedom of Information requests and you can’t subpoena them in legal proceedings. Banks are not supposed to admit the existence of a SAR – even to other banks,” said BuzzFeed News.

The portal also listed the top 10 banks represented in the FinCEN files.

Institution SARs Amount Flagged
Deutsche Bank 982 US$1.3 trillion
Bank of New York Mellon 325 US$64 billion
Standard Chartered 232 US$166 billion
JPMorgan Chase 107 US$514 billion
Barclays 104 US$21 billion
HSBC 73 US$4.4 billion
Bank of China 35 US$1.3 billion
Bank of America 35 US$384 million
Wells Fargo 21 US$57 million
Citibank 18 US$251 million

Table: BuzzFeed News

FinCEN is tasked at the US Treasury to combat financial crime.

It did not respond to BuzzFeed News for comment, but warned that the leak of the files was a crime and that it would refer the matter to the Department of Justice.

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