Courtesy of Mark Crosby, Monash University
Over the past 16 months journalists have been scouring through more than 2,000 Suspicious Activity Reports originally sent by banks to the United States Treasury, before being leaked to Buzzfeed and then passed along to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
The reports relate to more than US$2 trillion in transactions over the period from 2000 to 2017. Some of these transactions will already have been investigated, and may be legitimate. In the case of the Australian banks, the regulator AUSTRAC has already asked the US Treasury for some of this information.
There are a number of questions raised by this latest episode of bad behaviour by banks. Firstly, why don’t banks have better controls to stop these kinds of transactions from occurring?
With transactions from tax havens, from shell companies, or to countries under sanction why aren’t banks themselves doing some investigation rather