March 11, 2009

Report: Banks help fund brutal regimes

A Global Witness report Wednesday said Europe's biggest banks were complicit in maintaining many of the world's ongoing social and political failures.

The watchdog group said, point blank, the international banking system is complicit in helping to perpetuate poverty, corruption, conflict, human suffering and misery.

By doing business with dubious customers in corrupt, natural resource-rich states, banks are facilitating corruption and state looting, the report said.

The corruption occurs despite a raft of anti-money laundering laws that require them to do due diligence to identify their customer and turn down illicitly-acquired funds, the report said.

The report outlines Deutsche Bank's relationship with Saparmurat Niyazov, the dictator of Turkmenistan, who controlled deposits worth $2.55 billion and Barclay's relationship with Teodorin Obiang of the ruling family in Equatorial Guinea, where 20 percent of the population dies before their fifth birthday, in spite of the country's vast oil-revenues.

With a $4,000 salary a month, Teodorin has managed to purchase a $35 million mansion in Malibu, Calif., the report says, calling the government one of the world's worst kleptocracies.

The report says Citibank enabled Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia, to earn money that funded Liberia's brutal conflict and padded his personal bank account.