Deutsche Bank, Germany’s most prominent financial institution, recently found itself in the spotlight for concealing suspicious money transfers to terrorist groups in Iraq.
The Deutsche Bank’s US branches flagged these transactions, as per leaked documents obtained from the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
The leaked FinCEN files came to the public purview due to extensive international research on money laundering and financial crime. BuzzFeed News obtained and shared the documents with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
Investigative Journalists found that several top banks had handled over $2 trillion in illicit transactions from various criminal elements. Their report caused outrage after exposing the reluctance by banks and other financial institutions to halt suspicious transactions.
Deutsche Bank was particularly guilty, as it had facilitated over half of the $2 trillion suspicious transactions flagged by FinCEN since 1997.
Further reports indicate that money transfers of at least $4 billion flowed through Deutsche Bank’s branches to various Iraqi banks. These funds allegedly proceeded from repulsive activities such as extortion, illegal taxes, and oil looting conducted by ISIS.
Bitcoin Community Calls Out Deutsche Bank
The Bitcoin community has long pointed out Deutsche Bank’s hypocrisy in facilitating financial crimes while dismissing BTC as the main facilitator of payments to illicit groups.
The bank is on record categorizing BTC as problematic due to its widespread use in the drug trade and terrorism funding. In 2017, the German Bank issued a market briefing where it listed crypto and Bitcoin as one of the significant threats that would disrupt the global economy in 2018.
The irony of this statement is that Deutsche Bank has now been exposed in a flurry of illegalities that far exceed any risk posed by the crypto community.
Before the recent FinCEN documents exposé, the bank had come under fire in 2015 for facilitating illicit transactions to US-sanctioned countries.
More recently, in July 2020, the NY State Department of Financial Services fined Deutsche Bank for funding the notorious international child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.
Bitcoin is Just the Scapegoat for Criminal Funding
The Bitcoin community likely feels vindicated in light of the institutional banking system’s complacency in funding crime.
Although digital assets are widely blamed for funding illegalities, only 1.1% of crypto transactions were illicit in 2019. This percentage pales in comparison to the hundreds of million-dollar transactions processed by “regulated” banks to fund terrorists, sex traffickers, and other bad actors.
Perhaps it’s time for the banking system and financial regulators to stop perpetuating the notion that crypto is the primary tool for illegal transactions.