3 Famous Money Laundering Crimes and Cases


Money Laundering is often depicted on TV or in movies as a way for drug kingpins and/or former chemistry teachers to ‘wash’ their dirty dollars. This act, of ill-gotten money, has become a mainstay of crime media. Netflix’s hit show Ozark now has multiple seasons of the Byrde Family trying to launder money for drug cartels.

Beyond the big screen, what are some examples of real-life money laundering? Some big banks and big players have been implicated in world-famous money laundering schemes. Most of these names are not the gun-toting or drug smuggling characters seen on screen. 

The US government has enacted two key pieces of legislation to track and penalize money laundering. These are the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 and the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986. The first act forces banks to report any deposit over $10,000 and the second criminalizes money laundering. This crime can be boiled down to taking ‘dirty’ money, mixing it with clean money in a legitimate enterprise, thus concealing the origin of the dirty money.

In this article, we’ll go over 3 of the world’s most famous Money Laundering cases. 

Wachovia Money Laundering Case

In the late 2010’s Wachovia, which is now a part of Wells Fargo, was in some serious trouble. We’re not talking about the ‘08 financial crisis or housing market collapse. We’re talking about the ‘largest violation of the Bank Secrecy Act’ in US history. Remember the Bank Secrecy Act we mentioned above? Well due internal safeguards not being put into place and potentially being ignored drug cartels were able to funnel a lot of money. A lot of money. Up to $400 billion dollars. The bank was eventually bought out by Wells Fargo but that didn’t stop them from having to pay a fine of $160 million. 

HSBC and the 2 Billion Dollar Fine

HSBC is no stranger to scandals. They have regularly been plagued by investigations and hit with penalties. In their defense it’s probably not the easiest task to coordinate a world-wide financial behemoth. For a period of almost a decade the london-based bank facilitated large cash transfers from mexican and colombian drug cartels, middle-eastern terrorist groups, and sanctioned countries like Iran and North Korea. When HSBC was investigated, regulators made them cough up 2 billion dollars as a warning to start getting their internal affairs in order.

700 Million Down Under

One of Australia’s largest banks was forced to pay $700 million in fines due to a long-running suit against them. This is Australia’s largest regulatory fine to date. The Commonwealth Bank was accused of breaching regulatory practices regarding anti-money laundering laws and anti-terrorism laws. Over a period of a few years up to 55k transactions involving 10,000 dollars or more were failed to be reported or investigated. On top of this almost 800,000 accounts had money laundering red flags which were also not investigated. 

White-Collar Crime Attorneys in Atlanta

As you can probably tell from this article, being investigated and charged with money laundering is not something you would want to face. While not every government investigation leads to charges being brought, it helps to have experienced counsel to help you navigate the government investigation so that we can preemptively avoid the risk of being charged. You are guaranteed rights and our 3 decades of combined legal experience can help you protect those rights. If you have been charged with money laundering, racketeering, fraud, or any criminal defense matter in Georgia, contact us today.


Related Posts