Some shady dealings were uncovered at Wells Fargo, among other banks and financial institutions. Could this affect you?
June 4, 2019
Wells Fargo seems to be walking a thin line between being a legitimate banking institution and a criminal racket.
According to the California Office of the Department of Justice, a Wells Fargo banker named Luis Fernando Figueroa pleaded guilty to laundering money for the notorious Sinaloa Cartel.
But this shocking guilty plea means their institution has been exploited to propagate one of the largest criminal enterprises in the world. From the DOJ press release:
According to the indictment and other public records, the international money laundering organization laundered approximately $19.6 million dollars in narcotics proceeds on behalf of Mexican based drug trafficking organizations to include the Sinaloa Cartel between 2014 and 2016.
“We can’t allow our banks to be laundromats for cartel cash,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer.
In fairness, the criminal Cartel recruited “normal” people to open accounts at Wells Fargo, then leveraged those people to launder money to Mexico. So the bank may not have been able to “vet” the customer easily.
But what may have served as a good clue for Wells Fargo was the large deposit amounts of $22,000 to $45,000 that Cartel couriers made. And of course, this didn’t just happen at one branch. Branches in “Los Angeles, Chicago, Charlotte, Boston, New Jersey, and New York City” were affected.
In total, over $19 million in narcotics proceeds were laundered between 2014 and 2016, according to Business Insider.
But even if you don’t bank at Wells Fargo, “other U.S. banks” were identified but not listed in the DOJ press release. Did your bank take part in this criminal activity?
Imagine if it did, would you feel safe knowing your money is in an institution that can be exploited like this?
Wells Fargo isn’t the only bank with criminal activity to answer for…
Even Citi is in trouble (along with Chase) for messing with the foreign exchange market. Bank of America has already paid $180 million in a similar but unrelated case, according to Wall Street Journal.
And speaking of Bank of America, it faces over half a billion in fines for failure to pay necessary FDIC fees, according to CNN. After the Great Recession, BofA paid a $16.65 billion settlement to the U.S. DOJ for fraud leading up to the crisis.
So we have charges and fines for fraud, rigging markets, failure to pay FDIC, and helping to launder money for a major worldwide drug cartel. All in a day’s work?
Now take a moment and consider how safe your money is, and the integrity of the financial institution where that money is kept.
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