The Secrets of One of The World’s Dirtiest Banks & Its Powerful Western Protectors

Blatant forgery. Snarling guard dogs. Shredded evidence. Leaked documents reveal the farcical scramble inside one of the world’s dirtiest banks to conceal incriminating information – while some of the planet’s most prestigious accountants and lawyers used their powers to keep the bank in business.

Posted on December 13, 2017
Tom Warren – Investigations Correspondent
Alex Campbell – BuzzFeed News Deputy Investigations Editor, UK

This is Part One of a BuzzFeed News investigation.

Lilit Khachatryan cast a cool eye over the two private detectives who had just barged into her office. The pair of British ex-cops had been brought in to investigate the crisis-stricken Cyprus-based bank where she worked as head of anti-money laundering compliance, and now they were asking questions about a major customer whose accounts threatened to reveal some of its darkest secrets. She needed to buy some time.

With her perfect composure, pristine suits, and Harvard MBA, Khachatryan was the organised and efficient face of an institution in chaos. FBME Bank had been accused by the US government of allowing money laundering on a vast scale for terrorists, drug traffickers, repressive dictators, organised crime groups, and financiers for the Syrian regime – and now it faced being barred from using the dollar. The lion’s share of the bank’s business came from highly secretive Russian clients who relied on FBME to funnel their money into the global financial system without asking too many questions – and the dollar ban threatened to destroy it with a single stroke.

The super-rich Lebanese owners of FBME had hired two of the world’s most prestigious law firms, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Hogan Lovells, to fight the dollar ban – and had put the impeccable credentials of the bank’s compliance chief front and centre in their defence against the US government’s allegations. The partner leading the case for Quinn Emanuel was one of the most high-profile lawyers in Washington – William Burck, who was special counsel to President George W. Bush and is now representing two key White House figures in the inquiry into whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russia. The private detectives standing in Khachatryan’s office – Nigel Brown and Alec Leighton – were working for Burck to compile information that might bolster the bank’s case. They had been assured the compliance chief was the woman to ask for anything they needed to prove FBME’s affairs were in perfect order.

Full Story at:

Part Two:
Kremlin-Linked Slush Funds Funnelling Money to Syria’s Chemical Weapons Financiers

Inside one of the world’s dirtiest banks, confidential files expose Kremlin connections to a network of shadowy people fronting for Syria’s chemical weapons programme, ISIS, and organised crime.

Posted on December 14, 2017

Read Part 2 at: