As a disclaimer, most of the things on this list didn’t necessarily happen in 2019, they were just uncovered this past year. Most scandals are years and years in the making. Like a fine wine or some cheese, these instances take time to mature. It’s disgusting.
Trouble Down Under
This has not been Australia’s year. Not only have wildfires ravaged the country, but many of their financial institutes are a disaster. The biggest example is Westpac Bank’s debacle. They were accused of laundering over 11 billion dollars between 2013 and 2019.
This is the largest violation of money laundering in the country’s history. As per usual with things like this, the CEO was removed. And as per usual he received a handsome exit package to the tune of $2.7 million.
Russian Money Laundering
What’s new? Well this laundering scheme appeared to have it all. There were shell companies, there were huge joint inquiries by several nations including the U.S. and U.K., there were multiple European nations involved, there were heartless statements by important bank people promising to “be better”, and there was a staggering estimate of over $2 trillion total of laundered money. Honestly, it’d make a pretty good Bond movie subplot.
A scheme like this doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s been known about for a while, but the sheer scale wasn’t completely understood by the public till about 2019. As a sort of “shame monument” here’s just a few of the banks involved. In 2017 a list was compiled of more than 50 banks.
- ABN Amro (Scotland)
- Royal Bank of Scotland
- Raiffensen Bank International
- Ing Groep
- Credit Agricole
- Deusche Bank
- Nordea Bank
Raid on the Vatican
Despite being in what could be deemed one of the holiest cities on the planet, the Vatican actually has a dirty reputation, regarding finances. A reputation that they’ve maintained for years. So this is just the latest in a long line of shady holy dealings. In October of 2019, Vatican police raided the offices of the Financial Information Authority and the Holy See’s Secretariat of State due to suspicion of “financial irregularities”.
What does that mean? Fraud, corruption, bribery, laundering? God (or the Vatican police) only knows..
Pension Fund Accusations
This one has been going on for quite some time. There’s something called the LIBOR and it stands for the London Interbank Offered Rate. It’s a rate calculated daily that reflects the interest rate banks pay to borrow money from other banks. In 2012 it was revealed that several large banks (listed below in another list of shame) have been manipulating this rate since 2005-ish.
In layman’s terms, manipulation increases a bank’s profits. But people who trade and rely on the services provided by these banks lose out big time. In 2019 a pension fund in Hawaii became another on a long list of accusers to claim that a series of banks committed manipulation.
Just to be clear, manipulating and lying to pension funds is bad. So to have some big wig banky cock-a-doodle-doo gamble it for their own profit is really quite scummy.
Here’s the shame list as previously promised of banks accused of manipulation.
- Bank of America
- JP Morgan
- Deutsche Bank
- Royal Bank of Scotland
Aussie Banker In Double Fraud Debacle
BACK TO THE BUSH MATE. So a Commonwealth Bank manager discovered that one of his female colleagues transferred $64k into her own account. However he decided not to report it. But why? Was he taking bribes? Was it some sort of novella love affair/murder story? Did he get amnesia?
No. If he reported it, people would’ve discovered that he himself had been stealing nearly $500,000. OOOF. Well, they were both caught in the end. Apparently he took the money to fuel a gambling addiction. His colleague, on the other hand, used her money for actual stuff, like a new car.
I too was really hoping for the novella plotline. But we can’t have it all can we?
The Sunny Side
We can’t end on a downer. So to make you feel like there is some hope/kindness/decency left in the world, here’s a list of amazing things banks did for people this year.
Evan is a personal finance writer, content manager, and comedian based out of Los Angeles, CA. He’s covered credit cards, personal loans, new advances in fintech and more.