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Comic: Banks and the Global Laundromat -

1601397592720.png -- Banks and regulators are losing the fight against money-laundering.

Data leaked from the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network painted a picture of banks overwhelmed by the sheer volume of potentially suspect transfers, with neither the resources nor the will to tackle the problem thoroughly.

The amount of money laundered globally each year is estimated to be 2% to 5% of global GDP, as much as $2 trillion in absolute terms, according to figures from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The magazine American Banker noted that the system catches as little as 1%.

While much of the information released was largely historic, it once again ran the names of a handful of big-name banks through the mud.

Both U.S. and EU lawmakers are considering ways to improve their respective regimes: Congress is looking at the Illicit Cash Act, which would allow banks more power to know the identities of the people behind the myriad shell companies through which money is laundered. The EU, meanwhile, is looking at transferring supervision of anti-money-laundering to a new European regulator which – it is hoped – would be better at catching criminals than the overworked and sometimes compromised supervisory staff of the EU’s smaller states.

Whether either will ever provide an effective defense against global organized crime is, however, another question.