Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Dovish Feeling Like an Outcast

Almanac: C.S. Lewis on pride

“Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, ‘By jove! I’m being humble,’ and almost immediately pride—pride at his own humility—will appear.” C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters Continue reading Almanac: C.S. Lewis on pride at About Last Night....Read more

An explosive report by a team of BuzzFeed News journalists that show how criminals used the world’s biggest banks to finance their crimes and how the government doesn’t stop it.

A Fox-affiliated TV station in Nashville had to apologize for and remove a story that misled viewers about a coronavirus coverup that never happened. But by that point, Fox News, Beitbart, The Daily Wire and other conservative outlets already were off and running with the story. CNN’s Oliver Darcy has the details.

The New York Times looks back at RBG through photos of her rise to the Supreme Court.


Storm Chasers

 Clouds with a snippet of red sky lightning striking out onto pasture and a small hill behind


EPA to gain 70 staff to fight ‘waste criminals’

THE INDIFFERENT: Forensic accountants will tackle illegal phoenix activity,  and surveillance officers, intelligence analysts and more environmental protection officers will join the EPA.



FinCEN Files continues today with four more stories that dig deeper into our findings. Before we continue our global tour – we’ve seen some quick reactions already, including this one from Linda Lacewell, an official at New York State Department of Financial Services (one of the state’s bank watchdogs), who said:

"Trillions of dollars in dirty money gushes through the financial system in a toxic stew of criminal proceeds. Banks must put integrity at the center of what they do and empower compliance personnel to act. The SAR should be the beginning of the analysis not the end. We must act.”

If you’re not sure what a SAR is then you can watch our explainer on the suspicious activity reports that were the jumping off point for our investigation. 

And, if you missed yesterday’s email, start with this story – a quick breakdown of the FinCEN Files.

Inside scandal-rocked Danske Estonia and the shell-company ‘factories’ that served it

A handful of secretive agencies mass-produce U.K. shell companies owned by criminals and launderers from former Soviet states.

For today’s stories, we start our tour in Europe where we’ve examined the use of U.K. shell companies called “limited liability partnerships” (LLPs), and “limited partnerships” (LPs). Our research details how these secretive entities, which owned accounts at Danske Bank and elsewhere, were mass-produced by just a few secretive agencies. 

The popularity of U.K shell companies among money launderers has skyrocketed in recent years, from fewer than 20,000 in 2004 to more than 100,000 in 2017. FinCEN Files show how some of the world’s biggest banks have overlooked obvious money laundering signs and routinely waved through transactions tied to these questionable entities.

How banks helped Venezuela’s ‘boligarchs’ extract billions

The FinCEN Files show public money pouring out of the collapsing country.

From the U.K. to Latin America, we stop down in Venezuela. Our investigation reveals that between 2009 and 2017 banks reported more than $4.8 billion in suspicious transactions tied with the country. The majority of that – 70% – involved public money.

The Latin American country is currently suffering one of the world’s gravest humanitarian crises. But, not all Venezuelans are feeling the effects. We also show how so-called ‘boligarchs’ have managed to move vast sums of money from the country – profiting from government contracts often meant to help the poor.

US Treasury Department abandoned major money laundering case against Dubai gold company

The Kaloti probe offers rare insight into the illicit gold trade.

On to Dubai, where Kaloti Jewellery Group – one of the world’s largest gold traders and refiners – is headquartered. We found $9.3 billion worth of transactions in the FinCEN Files that related to the company. The conglomerate had become a key cog in the dirty gold trade, according to a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration-led task force. 

After a long investigation, the task force recommended the company be flagged as a money laundering threat, which could have essentially frozen the firm out of the banking system. But, much to the disappointment of investigators, that never happened and no action was taken against the company. Kaloti denies any allegations of wrongdoing.

HSBC moved vast sums of dirty money after paying record laundering fine

 Europe’s biggest bank aided massive Ponzi scheme while on probation over ties to drug kingpins.

Our final stop today: HSBC’s Hong Kong branch. The banking giant moved more than $900 million for shell company customers linked to alleged criminal networks – while on probation, our reporting reveals. 

We also expose the key role the bank’s Hong Kong branch played in keeping the dirty money flowing. Our reports show that between 2013 and 2017, HSBC staff filed reports lacking crucial customer information on 16 shell companies that processed nearly $1.5 billion through its Hong Kong operations alone.


Canberra ‘Popular' cafe owner Peter Poulakis gets six years' jail for role in international drug ring

In Praise Of Essential Small Talk

Americans in particular are small-talk artists. They have to be. This is a wild country. The most tenuous filaments of consensus and cooperation attach one person to the next. So the Have a nice days, the Hot enough for yous, the How ’bout those Metses—they serve a vital purpose. – The Atlantic

Barr blasts his own DOJ prosecutors, equates them to preschoolers and ‘headhunters’ NBC. Barr: “Name one successful organization where the lowest-level employees’ decisions are deemed sacrosanct. There aren’t any. Letting the most junior members set the agenda might be a good philosophy for a Montessori preschool, but it’s no way to run a federal agency.”

Coffee Rust Is Going to Ruin Your Morning The Atlantic

An unexpected audience Science. The study of magic effects. In animals.

Senate tells coolants to cool it Grist

Gas Companies Are Abandoning Their Wells, Leaving Them to Leak Methane Forever Bloomberg

Businesses with ‘windfall’ pandemic profits are showering them on investors, study finds WaPo

Cleaning is a high-risk job. These Miami janitors say they haven’t been getting enough PPE Miami Herald

Long-Term Care Facilities Must Prioritize Immigrant Workers’ Needs To Contain COVID-19 Health Affairs

Housekeepers Face a Disaster Generations in the Making NYT

Biden allies demand help for gig workers Axios

Trump Labor Board Upends Special Status of Union Stewards Labor Notes

America’s Eviction Epidemic NYRB

Feeling Like an Outcast Foreign Policy