The United States Treasury Department raised alarm yesterday about a Belarus bank known as JSC CredexBank which it designated a “primary money-laundering concern,” under the Patriot Act, officials said Tuesday.
The government’s primary concern is the bank’s use of shell companies which are frequently used in money laundering activities.
“Treasury took this action because it has reason to believe that Credex has engaged in high volumes of transactions that are indicative of money laundering on behalf of shell corporations, and has a history of ownership by shell corporations whose own lack of transparency contributes to considerable uncertainty surrounding Credex’s true beneficial ownership,” they said in a news release.
The volume of laundered money is in the billions, says the U.S.
“In one two-month period in 2010, Credex facilitated at least $1 billion in U.S.-dollar-denominated wire transfers to hundreds of foreign shell corporations in high-risk jurisdictions,” U.S. Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen told reporters on a conference call.
Cohen said that the bank engaged in evasive conduct including not identifying the true beneficiary, or owner, in many transactions.
As a result, the Treasury has proposed a ban on U.S. financial institutions from having relationships with the bank.
Credex was founded in 2001 and it is one of Belarus’ smaller banks, placing 22 out of 31 commercial banks in the country.
It maintains “correspondent relationships” with banks in Russia, a close ally of Belarus, as well as three European Union countries: Latvia, Germany, and Austria.