The world’s most profitable financial industry is being used to hide the truth and conceal a fraud, according to a leading analyst.
The world’s largest and most powerful financial services companies, such as HSBC, JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank, and Barclays, have been using their huge reach in the global economy to hide their role in money laundering, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) revealed in its annual report to the public.
The ICIJ says this is because it has learned that many of these financial institutions have used their enormous power to create an environment in which they can evade government scrutiny and conceal their role.
“This is not a new phenomenon, but the scale of it is unprecedented and has become more obvious in recent years, the ICIJ report said.”
For decades, the global financial system has been dominated by financial institutions that have a strong financial incentive to conceal their business dealings.
“However, the scope of the financial crisis, which brought together the world’s biggest banks and their international counterparts, made it clear that this had been happening for a very long time.”
The report also revealed that banks have been forced to re-think how they deal with the public, including through transparency, so that public officials have more access to their accounts and to financial data.
It said that while there are some “significant loopholes” in the rules that allow financial institutions to operate without a regulator, the banks have largely managed this by using legal loopholes to hide, or not disclose, their involvement in money-laundering and other financial crimes.
The report said that in the US, HSBC and JPMorgan have been found to be the most transparent banks.
However, it said that the report only looked at the top five banks.
It found that a number of other financial institutions also broke the law, including Barclays, Bank of America, Credit Suisse, JP Merrill, and Royal Bank of Scotland.
The report noted that some of these institutions were so big that they were not subject to regulation by the US Federal Reserve.
“These institutions, which represent the biggest players in the financial services industry, have operated with impunity, enabling their behavior to be cloaked in secrecy,” the report said, adding that “there is little evidence that these institutions are responsible for the vast majority of the $US1 trillion (about $1.5 trillion) of financial crimes”.
“Instead, we find that the world is being forced to confront a system in which many of the most profitable companies in the world are engaging in criminal activity and using their position to hide a criminal activity that is far from a small crime,” it added.ICIJ found that some large banks and other banks have even engaged in a culture of secrecy.
It described how Barclays and HSBC, two of the world´s largest banks, used their “secret” banking systems to conceal money laundering and other money- laundering activities.
“In some cases, the financial institutions themselves were the perpetrators,” the ICJ said.
The bank, which has been fined $US3.6 billion in the past few years for its role in the laundering of millions of dollars, was recently forced to pay $US400 million to the US government, for failing to cooperate with investigations by the United States and European Union.
The banks have repeatedly denied that their systems were breached.
“We will continue to fight for accountability for these crimes, which have not only destroyed the lives of millions, but also the integrity of the global banking system,” a spokesman for the bank told the BBC.
“The evidence we have provided in this report is consistent with our own investigation into the conduct of the banks.
We are proud of the evidence we presented in this inquiry and look forward to continuing to pursue our case.”
The ICJ has also found that the Bank of England, the UK´s central bank, was slow to act on information about the financial crime by the big five banks and to take any action to protect the public from a criminal act.
“It was too slow, and it wasn´t the big banks who were at fault,” the group said.
“It was the public.”
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