If there was any silver lining in the unsavory and highly costly mirror trading scandal that Deutsche Bank has just about almost gotten over, it was the fact that buying and selling stocks in equal quantities in order to launder money for Russian oligarchs was undeniably an innovative move. Leaving aside the slight issue of illegality, it was an elegant solution to a thorny problem faced by some of Deutsche Bank's most loyal clients.
But now the Russian government is taking even that small consolation away:
Deutsche Bank AG was not the only international lender found to have conducted “mirror trades” to circumvent regulations and send money out of Russia in the last few years, the Bank of Russia said, declining to name other institutions involved.
The regulator said in a statement to Bloomberg that it had found about 750 billion rubles ($13.5 billion at average exchange rates over the period) in the transactions from 2014 to 2016, but didn’t break down the figure by individual banks. Deutsche Bank’s internal investigation found about $10 billion in trades through its Moscow office from 2011-2015.
We shouldn't be surprised that someone else was in on Deutsche Bank's game. No profitable strategy stays secret for long, particularly when there's an acute consumer demand for a certain service. Who knows, maybe Deutsche Bank's traders weren't even the first ones on the scene.
If we assume that Russia's numbers are right and Deutsche Bank's total was limited to $10 billion, that leaves $3.5 billion of unclaimed mirror trades out there. While far smaller than Deutsche Bank's tally, that's still a pretty big number. Whoever it was doing all that other mirror trading: Step on up and claim your prize!