FinCEN Files: Cyprus banks embroiled in dirty money laundering

Leaked documents from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, dubbed the FinCEN files, have revealed that several of the world’s major banks allowed over 200,000 suspicious financial transactions valued at around $2 trillion to be moved over a period of almost two decades, with 897 of those transactions made by Cypriot banks.

The FinCEN files consist of over 2,100 documents leaked to Buzzfeed News which then moved to share what it called the “huge trove of secret government documents” with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) that brought together more than 400 reporters from 88 countries to investigate the documents, most of which were suspicious activity reports (SARs) sent by banks to US authorities between 1999 and 2017.

According to the ICIJ, the documents are only a small fraction (0.02%) of the more than 12 million SARs submitted over the period of two decades. Buzzfeed reported that the trillions of US dollars in suspicious transactions served to enrich major global banks and their shareholders, while facilitating the movement of dirty money for terrorists, kleptocrats, and drug kingpins.

Among the files, there SARs showing that 897 suspicious transactions flowed to and from Cyprus, with Cypriot banks receiving $1,021,397,580 and sending $398,518,966.

In Cyprus the bank which handled most of the transactions was the FBME Bank in Cyprus, which was in 2014 accused by FinCEN of facilitating financial transactions for multinational organised crime organizations and Hezbollah, with the bank’s branch license revoked in 2015. But the FinCEN files also implicate other Cypriot banks which are still operating today.

FinCen said in a statement on its website on Sept. 1 that it was aware that various media outlets intended to publish a series of articles based on unlawfully disclosed SARs, as well as other documents, and said that the “unauthorized disclosure of SARs is a crime that can impact the national security of the United States.”

Representatives for the U.S. Treasury declined comment beyond the FinCen statement.