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Massive fines, tightening regulatory oversight & increased competition from the Fintech companies around the world has not deterred the big banks to hoodwink the authorities by conducting shady deals, dodging compliance procedures & overlooking internal and external controls. These thugs of the financial world are the masterminds of the biggest white-collar crimes you see around the World. No wonder the general public hates them so much & gets attracted to the new decentralized & trust-less model. You might be wondering why my tone is a little too antagonistic towards these big banks – just wait before you read further about the startling stories of the corporate embezzlement that the authorities have dug up recently & investigating rigorously. And the entities to nobody’s surprise are three most “reputed banks” in the World – Deutsche Bank (Germany), Danske Bank (Denmark) & Goldman Sachs (United States).

What bewilders me even more is the audacity of these big banks… even after a massive financial crisis which was triggered by their malpractices & threatened to bring down the whole economic system of the world, they have continued with their crooked dealings. Just look at the fines that have been imposed on some of the top American & European banks ever since 2008 financial meltdown. Apparently fining them billions hasn’t really helped the situation.

The trigger point for the previous financial crisis was the collapse of Lehman Brothers in U.S & there is another warning sign emanating from Europe this time. Deutsche Bank, which is one the most reputed banks in the World with presence in over 58 countries and the 15th largest bank in the World has been in trouble since the leaking of the infamous Panama Papers in 2016. The investigation, however, covers the 5 year period from 2013-18. The raid on the Head Office of the financial giant in Frankfurt by 170 investigating officers puts its future at stake. The bank has already paid more than $18 billion in fines since 2008 and with this recent setback has lost more than 90% of its stock value from the peak of $152.70 in 2007 to close $9.39 at the time of writing. No wonder the investors are fleeing the sinking ship as the management continues to deny any problems, as Lehman did before its final collapse. Authorities have seized documents and electronic files as the investigations gather pace. Investigators have so far exposed evidence which suggests that the bank helped clients setup offshore accounts to funnel illegal funds.

Image result for deutsche bank fines since 2008

Another prominent bank in Europe, Danske Bank – biggest bank of Denmark, which operates regional banks in the Nordic region and has a strong presence in most of Europe came under fire recently with the Danish authorities investigating the bank for money laundering activities. Not only this but Estonia, France, United States and the United Kingdom have launched criminal investigations of large-scale money laundering through the bank as well. The total amount at stake comes to about $230 billion. The investigations have gathered steam after the Whistleblower testimony who has revealed the complex web of deceit that encompasses some of the major banks of the World. The testimony also revealed that Estonian branches of the Danske bank were used to filter the illegal funds to the mainstream financial system. The authorities raided the bank on the same day as its German counterpart was being investigated. Danske bank has almost lost 50% of its stock value from the peak reached in January of this year & is the second worst performer after Deutsche Bank in Europe’s financial sector.

And finally crossing over to the Atlantic, Goldman Sachs has been in the news for the wrong reasons. The Federal Reserve, the central bank of the U.S which keeps regulatory oversight over the American banks is ramping up investigations against GS who is accused of helping Malaysian authorities raise billions of dollars which later went missing. The bank’s stock has lost almost 29% of its value from the peak of $271.09 to close $191.63 at the time of writing as nervous investors flee. The investigators are trying to determine how the executives of the bank were able to dodge the internal controls launder massive amounts of money. Add an existing DoJ probe with Malaysian governments asking for refunds and a Abu Dhabi investment funds lawsuit & the banking giant is knee-deep in trouble.

While seemingly none of these investigations of the three banks are related, nevertheless, it brings to light the fact that all of these financial giants are involved in misdemeanor, illegal activities & money laundering of the highest level. Reminds me of 2008 when the governments of different countries stepped in to save stave off the liquidity crunch by pouring billions into these same banks. Wonder where that money went?

So when regulatory authorities twist & turn about having a framework to monitor the emerging business models in Fintech & Blockchain/Crypto arena since they are worried about theft, market manipulation & securing investors, they really need to do a better job bringing these “White Collar Thugs” to justice before they can proclaim themselves as the “Guardians” of the Financial System & the people.

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