Australian financial institutions laundered $387 million for Latin American cocaine cartels, according to a new report.
The Australian Financial Review says that the money-laundering web spanned several continents including South America where the hard drugs were obtained, North America where the drugs were sold, and south-east Asia where the proceeds from drug sales were received in bank accounts.
In Australia, the cash was layered through various bank accounts before the trade-based money laundering phase kicked off.
The report reveals that every year between 2014 and 2017, over $77 million passed through the Aussie banks. Once in Australia, the money was used to purchase electronic items such as laptops, gaming consoles, smart devices, digital cameras and other electronic gadgets.
These high-end electronic items were then shipped abroad for sale with the intention of integrating the proceeds into the financial system as legitimate money.
The report further points out that the money laundering scheme came to light after trade mis-invoicing was detected.
“The criminal network was discovered when law enforcement bodies noticed the valuations on the invoices being used by the exporters and importers did not match.”
According to the Australia Border Force (ABF), nine unidentified Australian financial institutions were unknowingly involved in the money-laundering web.