US probing Deutsche Bank, three others for laundering money to Iran

Four banks are accused of funneling billions of dollars through their American branches for Iran and other sanctioned countries

US currency (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90)
US currency (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90)

Germany’s Deutsche Bank and three other global banks are being investigated for money laundering to Iran, Sudan, and other sanctioned countries, The New York Times reported Saturday. They are accused of funneling billions of dollars through their American branches.

The probe by the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, the Federal Reserve, the Justice Department, and the New York District Attorney’s office is still in its early stages.

Deutsche Bank is not believed to have moved funds on behalf of Iranian clients through its US operations after 2008. The article explained that a loophole in US policy on money laundering was closed in 2008.

The bank’s spokesman told the NYT that it decided in 2007 that it would “not engage in new business with counterparties in countries such as Iran, Syria, Sudan and North Korea and to exit existing business to the extent legally possible.”

The US has already brought charges against five other foreign banks — ABN Amro, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Lloyds and most recently ING — for moving billions of dollars, through American subsidiaries, on behalf of Iran, Cuba, and North Korea. They were charged a substantial amount of their assets.

The cases normally do not involve US banks because, unlike foreign institutions, US banks are prohibited from “originating or receiving” such transactions from Iran — forcing them to sidestep the transactions that get the European banks into trouble.

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