Enforce money laundering laws to stop Vladimir Putin

Key takeaways

  • Russian money laundering over an 8 year period converted more than $230 billion worth of Russian rubles.
  • FinCen issued an urgent alert imploring U.S. banks to be vigilant against Russian efforts to evade sanctions.
  • U.S. banks have paid almost $7 billion in fines due to lapses in anti-money laundering controls.

U.S. banks must work together to fight Vladimir Putin’s money laundering, according to Yieldstreet’s head of litigation Vijay Dewan.  His op-ed, recently published on Fortune.com,  calls on U.S. bank compliance officers to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin by enforcing existing money laundering laws.

Dewan is a former federal prosecutor who worked in the Economic Crimes Unit of the U.S. Department of Justice.  He said, “It is up to anti-money laundering and compliance officers in the United States to hold the financial front line.”

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) recently issued an urgent alert imploring U.S. banks to be “vigilant against efforts to evade the expansive sanctions and other U.S. imposed restrictions implemented,” after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Dewan pointed out that Russian money laundering over an 8-year period converted more than $230 billion worth of Russian rubles into U.S. dollars.   Over the last decade, several large banks have paid nearly $7 billion in fines after entering into non-prosecution agreements or deferred prosecution agreements with the DOJ.  “This happened at a time when U.S. banks were supposed to be on guard to prevent the kind of money laundering that enriched Putin and the oligarchs,” Dewan writes in the op-ed.

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