A recent piece in The Guardian updates a multi-year investigation into the “Russian Laundromat” — a Russian money laundering case that has led investigators to a total of 96 countries. The Guardian’s investigation reveals top British banks, most notably HSBC, handled nearly $740 million of Russian Laundromat money.
The laundering operation moves money with criminal Russian origins from east to west, using Eastern Europe, primarily Latvia and Moldova, as a conduit to the UK and elsewhere. The operation is run by Russian criminals with ties to Russia’s government and the KGB, and a group of about 500 people, including oligarchs, Moscow bankers and FSB assets, are believed to be involved in the scheme. Also, Igor Putin, a cousin of President Putin, was on the board of a bank implicated in the fraud.
The approximately $740 million of Russian Laundromat money handled by British banks represents just a fraction of the funds moved out of Russia in recent years. Documents show at least $20 billion was moved out of Russia between 2010 and 2014, and detectives believe the figure may actually be around $80 billion.