United Kingdom to Probe Claims Laundered Russian Cash Passed Through Banks

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UK-based banks have been accused of processing $738m (£594m) of Russian money as part of a multi-billion pound money laundering scam.

British lawmakers tabled an urgent parliamentary question after newspaper reports said that United Kingdom banks including HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Coutts and Standard Chartered were named as being among those that did not turn away suspicious money transfers.

That can be evidenced with documents obtained by Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) as well as investigation carried out by the Russian media.

The Guardian said that while all major British banks will face questions over why they did not raise the alarm on suspicious money transfers, they actually only processed money that had already been laundered. The case is about 740 million dollars.

The Guardian quoted a senior figure involved in the investigation as saying the money from Russian Federation was "obviously either stolen or with criminal origin".

It says the 17 banks include HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds but British-registered companies also had a role. A criminal scheme has been already named as a "Global Laundromat".

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Standard Chartered said it's committed to preventing fraud, money laundering and terrorist financing.

According to the Guardian, the obtained documents included details of around 70,000 banking transactions, including bear 2,000 that went through United Kingdom banks. The records indicate at least $20 billion moved out of Russian Federation between 2010 and 2014 and that some of it ended up at overseas banks.

Britain's National Crime Agency (NCA) said it was "willing to consider any formal request for assistance" in connection with the investigation.

Transparency International executive director Robert Barrington, who was first alerted to the United Kingdom end of the so-called Laundromat when it was exposed by the Evening Standard and Independent newspapers in 2014, said: "There have been some small improvements in controlling money laundering, but fundamentally nothing has changed since".

"The bank has systems and processes in place to identify suspicious activity and report it to the appropriate government authorities".

A spokesperson for HSBC said: "This case highlights the need for greater information sharing between the public and private sectors, each of whom holds important information the other does not".