FleetBoston Financial Corporation – Money Laundering (2001 – 2002)

Outcome: Successfully Withdrawn

WHEREAS the IMF has estimated the annual amount of laundered money at between $600 billion and $1.5 trillion, or 2% to 5% of the world’s gross domestic product, with perhaps one-third of this amount passing through U.S. financial institutions. As an example, the Central Bank of Russia reports that in 1998 alone, the year in which that country defaulted on its foreign debt and triggered financial crises around the world, $70 billion was transferred from Russian banks to accounts chartered in Nauru (a South Pacific island-nation) and much of it passed through the Bank of New York.
WHEREAS in order to reduce the possibility of money laundering, financial institutions must know the identity and address of the participants in transactions, relationships, and other financial agreements and must have information on the beneficial ownership of them.
WHEREAS of particular concern are offshore shell banks and shell corporations which operate under the protection of secrecy rules in places like Nauru and the Cayman Islands and hide the identities of the beneficial owners. Usually the shell bank has no physical presence, does not deal in the local currency and exists merely as a legal address. The dangers of this situation were illustrated by the seizure of $2 million of drug traffickers’ funds at Citibank NY, which held the account of the Cayman Islands’ licensed M.A. Bank. These off-shore financial institutions often have correspondent accounts and “payable-through” accounts with U.S. banks. The latter accounts permit the foreign institutions’ customers to conduct business in the U.S. directly or through a sub-account.
WHEREAS as a result of the 11 September 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, several steps have been initiated to prevent money laundering and financial flows to terrorists. The International Counter-Money Laundering and Foreign Anticorruption Act of 2001 permits the Secretary of the Treasury to designate a foreign jurisdiction, financial institution or a class of international transactions as being of “primary money laundering concern” to the U.S. Such an order would require financial institutions to maintain the identity and address of the participants in any transaction, relationship or other financial agreement, and information concerning the beneficial ownership of the funds involved in any direct transaction, payable-through account or correspondent account.
WHEREAS we believe that the corporation should take leadership in preventing money laundering and should move to adopt voluntarily the general policies outlined above with respect to all financial institutions with which it does business;
WHEREAS we believe that such steps will enhance the corporation’s public reputation in this time of national crisis as well as forestall demands for possible additional government regulation.
BE IT RESOLVED that the shareholders request the Board of Directors to develop a policy that the Corporation will provide no financial transactions, including no correspondent or payable-through accounts, for any financial institution that is not willing to provide the identity and address of the participants in transactions or relationships or the identity of the beneficial ownership of funds.

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