Need another reason to hate banks? Another reason besides the role they played in the housing collapse, the poisoning of the world economy with toxic assets, the 700 billion dollar taxpayer funded bailout they extorted from the Fed or the 10s of millions of dollars in bonuses awarded to CEOs with our money? Well, if those reasons aren’t enough, how about laundering money for Mexican drug cartels?
During a 22 month investigation conducted by the DEA, IRS and other government agencies it was uncovered that Wachovia Bank had been laundering money for drug cartels. In 2006 a jet owned by the Sinaloa cartel was confiscated containing one million dollars worth of cocaine. The jet was eventually found out to have been bought with money laundered by Wachovia. As far back as 2004 billions of dollars in wire transfers, traveler’s checks and cash shipments were deposited in Wachovia accounts here in the U.S. through Mexican exchanges.
Wachovia had criminal proceedings brought against them but the case never went to trail. In March 2010, Wachovia paid federal authorities $110 million in forfeiture for allowing transactions that were proved to be connected to drug smuggling, and got slapped with a meager $50 million dollar fine for failing to monitor money that was used to ship 22 tons of cocaine. They were also given “deferred prosecution” which basically means if the bank abides by the law for a year, charges are dropped. Keep in mind that the total fine was less than 2% of the their $12.3 billion profit for 2009.
According to court documents “Through CDCs (casa de cambia) persons in Mexico can use hard currency and wire transfer the value of that currency to U.S. bank accounts to purchase items in the United States or other countries. The nature of the CDC business allows money launderers the opportunity to move drug dollars that are in Mexico into CDCs and ultimately into the US banking system. On numerous occasions, monies were deposited into a CDC by a drug-trafficking organization. Using false identities, the CDC then wired that money through its Wachovia correspondent bank accounts for the purchase of airplanes for drug-trafficking organizations.” The documents also state that from 2004 through 2007, Wachovia processed at least $373.6 billion in CDCs and $4.7 billion in bulk cash for a total of more than $378.3 billion dollars.
Wachovia was acquired by Wells Fargo during the 2008 economic crash, at the same time Wells Fargo was being handed $25 billion in taxpayers’ bailout money. The “deferred prosecution” part of Wachovia’s settlement was up this past March leaving the bank free and in the clear.