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finance | IST

FinCEN documents show how suspicious bank transactions of Indians were red-flagged to top US regulator

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Suspicious bank transactions of Indians are red-flagged to the top US regulator --Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) --for suspected money laundering, terrorism, drug dealing or financial fraud, Indian Express reported on Monday.

Suspicious bank transactions of Indians are red-flagged to the top US regulator --Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) --for suspected money laundering, terrorism, drug dealing or financial fraud, Indian Express reported on Monday.
"These documents, called Suspicious Activity Reports or SARs, which constitute the FinCEN Files, are not evidence of illegality. However, they reflect views by watchdogs within banks, known as compliance officers, reporting past transactions that bore hallmarks of financial crime, or that involved clients with high-risk pofiles or past run-ins with the law," the report said.
The Indian Express, along with 109 media organizations in 88 countries teamed with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and BuzzFeed News and traced the Indian entities and banks named in these SARs filed with FinCEN between 1999 and 2017.
As per the investigation, the total value of transactions covered in these SARs are $ 2 trillion. However, the SARs are in themselves not necessarily proof of wrongdoing, and the ICIJ reported the leaked documents were a tiny fraction of the reports filed with FinCEN.
One of the key finding of Indian Express here is that in many cases the very fact that individuals and companies are being probed by Indian agencies is part of the SAR flagged to FinCEN.
The Indian Express investigation also revealed transactions of a range of individuals and companies that includes a jailed art and antique smuggler,  global diamond firm owned by Indian-born citizens named in several offshore leaks, a premier healthcare and hospitality group, a bankrupt steel firm, a luxury car dealer who allegedly duped several high net worth individuals, a multinational Indian conglomerate, a sponsor of the Indian Premier League (IPL) team, an alleged hawala dealer who became the reason for a massive fight within the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and a key financier of an Indian underworld don, among others.
In a majority of cases, domestic branches of Indian banks have been utilized to receive or remit the funds. In some cases, bank accounts with foreign branches of Indian banks, too, have been used to carry out these transactions, Indian Express said.
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