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April 11, 2006

No-Fee Checking For Terrorists

A few days old now, but big news, and I missed it myself. Manhattan DA shuts down a major American banks' account used to move $3 billion (with a b) to terrorist-related organizations and activities.

Which bank? They won't say. Word is, though, that it's a... major bank of America, if you know what I'm saying.

Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau has shut down a massive terror-finance pipeline in which a whopping $3 billion in profits from drug deals and other crimes flowed through a major New York bank to Middle East fanatics, The Post has learned.

Morgenthau told The Post his office is pursuing a settlement involving possible penalties against one of the largest and most prominent banks in New York - which he declined to identify - for maintaining an account where funds that originated in South America's notorious "tri-border region" were rerouted to suspect accounts in the Middle East.

Evidence developed in the course of a three-year probe, which has already resulted in charges against other New York-based financial institutions, revealed that about $3 billion that flowed through the account over a two-year period was going to terror groups Hamas, al Qaeda and Hezbollah, Morgenthau said.

"I can't go out and arrest Osama bin Laden. But I can try to cut off his money," Morgenthau said of his massive probe.

...

"Most of this is in dollars, and most of it goes through Manhattan," [a former assistant DA for financial crimes testified at a Congressional hearing]. Morgenthau would not name the latest New York bank under the gun, but said the case could be concluded - with possible penalties - "any day now."

He said most of the $3 billion in suspicious funds were generated, through criminal enterprises, in the lawless tri-border region of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.

Over a two-year period, the $3 billion was sent to the New York bank account by a shadowy money-transmittal company in Montevideo, Uruguay.

The money then flowed into bank accounts in the Middle East locations including Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Beirut, Lebanon, and Ramallah in the Palestinian territories.

I hope the penalties are big enough to cause possible bankruptcy. There is simply no excuse for a bank permitting itself, through willful ignorance, to be used as a financier for terrorism.

Thanks to Brad.


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posted by Ace at 12:51 PM

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