U.S. federal agents who seized more than $4 million in U.S. banknotes shipped from Alfredo Piano’s Buenos Aires bank uncovered what they claimed was a cache of dirty money…Piano’s banknotes became the subject of recent scrutiny in federal court in Washington, where the bills were named defendants in a lawsuit called U.S. v. $4,245,800 in Mutilated United States Currency. In it, the U.S. alleged that the tattered cash that Piano’s Banco Piano SA had tried to exchange at face value was likely the proceeds of criminal activity. Piano argued that his bank’s role is to help Argentines get new greenbacks when their old ones get burned, ripped or, in some cases, sent through the washing machine. Hashing out whether the bills fell under the government’s figurative, criminal definitions of dirty and laundered, or merely Piano’s literal ones, took an 18-month legal proceeding and insights from Argentine money-hoarders, the Secret Service and an arm of the U.S. government called the Mutilated Currency Division…Mounting the defense of his clients’ money, Piano argued that Argentines are world-class stashers of cash dollars, and that misfortune will naturally befall some of the paper money that people hoard in mattresses, walls and holes in the ground…On November 25, a year and a half after the bills were seized, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan approved a settlement reached between the two sides. It called for returning about $4 million to the bank. [Bloomberg]
Even if you have a Putin on your board? Well, Master Bank didn’t—it, like most Russian banks, probably considered money laundering a key business line and the lifeblood of the Russian economy—and now it is no more. Read more »
A while back Oppenheimer & Co. let some people trade illegally in some penny stocks and today they got in mild trouble for it, settling with FINRA over charges of selling unregistered securities, inadequate supervision, and inadequate anti-money-laundering compliance programs. Oppenheimer agreed to pay a $1.4mm fine and hire a bunch of stop-doing-that consultants to tell them to stop doing that.
The FINRA complaint is mildly amusing; its list of “red flags indicating that there may have been sales of unregistered securities1 that should have prompted further inquiry” includes “the customer had walked into a branch office with share certificates of thinly-traded securities for deposit.” Not in 1920, I mean, in 2008: a customer “carried into the Newport Beach office and delivered into his new account share certificates for 255,000,000 and 500,000,000 shares of NBVG.” I just love that image for its old-fashioned solidity; I’ve entrusted my entire life savings to some bits floating around the internet but this guy was hauling around paper stock certificates. Worth, apparently, hundreds of millions of pennies!2 Read more »
The Federal Reserve has ordered Citigroup Inc to better police for the risk of money laundering, part of a broad U.S. regulatory crackdown on the potential for illicit money flows. The Fed told Citigroup’s board to submit a plan within 60 days to improve its oversight of companywide anti-money laundering compliance, according to a consent order dated March 21, but only made public on Tuesday. The order expands upon similar orders directed at several Citigroup units in 2012. The plan should include funding personnel and resources based on the risks of different units – policies that instill a “proactive approach” to identifying and managing money-laundering risks – and measures to ensure employees adhere to those compliance policies, the Fed said. [Reuters]
It’s not Venezuela, now that old Hugo is gone. It’s not Cuba. And it’s definitely not the U.S. Indeed, the ballsiest country on this side of the globe seems to be measuring its cojones against us, in a series of direct throw-downs. And Argentina’s are bigger. Read more »