The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookiesbefore using this site. Please see our Subscription Terms and Conditions.

All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2022 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.

Financial crime: FinCEN papers show a problem that has been brewing for years

There’s no point attacking banks for filing suspicious activity reports as they are required to, but they must work better together with law enforcement to fight financial crime.


Scores of investigative journalists have been poring over a cache of more than 2,100 suspicious activity reports filed by nearly 90 banks to the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

The documents were shared by BuzzFeed News and include information on more than $2 trillion in transactions dated from 1999 to 2017 that had been flagged by the banks as suspicious.

That’s a big number.

It should surprise precisely no one.

Last October, the Institute of International Finance (IIF) estimated the amount of money laundered globally each year to be somewhere between 2% to 5% of global GDP, or between $885 billion and $2.2 trillion.

This is not a $2 trillion every two decades problem. It’s $2 trillion a year.

Fine fears

Bank share prices have fallen today, partly thanks to fears of big new fines, partly thanks to the resurgence of Covid. Several have pointed out that these documents are not something the banks have covered up, rather just the opposite.

They themselves have reported up the chain to national financial intelligence units (FIUs), precisely as the law requires them to.

To take just one example, Standard Chartered says that in 2019 it monitored more than 1.2

You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.


Unlimited access to and

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually


Unlimited access to and, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors


Already a user?

We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.
By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
I agree