Bank of America has yet to be raised as a suspect for drug-laundering. The case calls to mind Wells Fargo‚Äôs $160 million settlement with the Justice Department in 2010 part of allegations that the bank enabled drug traffickers to launder money by shifting it between Mexican currency-exchange houses and the bank. To be sure, Wells Fargo and Bank of America are not the only to banks to be named as institutions that have abetted money-laundering by drug-traffickers.
In 2009,¬† Antonio Maria Costa, in charge of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, claimed that proceeds from organized crime were ‚Äúthe only liquid investment capital‚ÄĚ available to many banks in 2008 during the banking collapse.
Drug money worth billions of dollars kept the financial system afloat at the height of the global crisis, the United Nations‚Äô drugs and crime tsar told the Observer in 2009. He said that a majority of the $352bn disappeared during the crisis. He continued:
‚ÄúInter-bank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade and other illegal activities‚Ä¶ There were signs that some banks were rescued that way.‚ÄĚ Costa said the money had been effectively laundered.
‚ÄúThat was the moment [last year] when the system was basically paralysed because of the unwillingness of banks to lend money to one another. The progressive liquidisation to the system and the progressive improvement by some banks of their share values [has meant that] the problem [of illegal money] has become much less serious than it was,‚ÄĚ he said.
So, without drug and other criminal funds, the banking system would collapse. It seems anything would break the system these days, but here you have it: In 2009, the United Nations had representatives go public claiming that, without drug money, the banking system would have collapsed. Since the banks own the United States government, as was seen during the bailout episode and continued cheap liquidity-at-gunpoint, they use it to get weapons to the drug cartels in Mexico, as highlighted by the Fast & Furious criminality. Still today, as evidence suggests by this new Bank of America scandal, western banks are protecting criminal activity.