Money laundering is a very complex thing that requires a lot of knowledge when you want to be able to do it properly, right? Well, no, turnes out after the ING affair ended; you just need a little creativity and a sleeping Know Your Customer (KYC) department at a bank to wash millions of money. To be precise: to launder 18,750 euros per day. What’s up with that?
We’re going to zoom in on a specific part of the Houston case, in which ING had to settle for 775 million euros, which perhaps stands out the most. A Surinamese building materials trader is suspected of underground banking and money laundering for third parties, based on transactions discovered at the end of 2015. The company, a sole trader, had already been busy for two years giving a lighter color to black money. In those two years, the bank of the Surinamese stone sliders never noticed.
Step one: Fifteen ATMs
The company purchased fifteen ATMs in 2013 and they were happily connected to their account, according to the request to allow customers in the Netherlands to pay by debit card. So far nothing strange, despite the fact that the builders from South America had no activities at all in our little country. In reality, it turned out to be a sort of illegal change office in Suriname, where customers could pin to get a cash back. Money laundering had begun.
It made them worth there while, because in the two years that they were affiliated with ING, they managed to get nine million euros through the washing machine, equivalent to around 20,000 euros per working day from the bank. All this time the company was a sole proprietorship, so they’re probably winning the gold medal in ‘best earning one-man-shop’. And that with just fifteen pin terminals, delivered in Suriname, but intended for the Dutch market. Totally unsuspicious.
The case puts the fine that ING received in the money laundering scandal in an interesting perspective. This case wasn’t just build on a sleeping employee, but a complete department that systematically ignored reports from their own transaction monitoring system. Not the only case that stands out, by the way, there also was a company on Curacao that received 150,000,000 euros in 4 years via credit cards. ING did not find it suspicious and it turned out that it was not even looked at who the entrepreneur behind the company was; apparently a bankrupt person.
Read the report on the criminal investigation from the Public Prosecution Service to ING here.