A major new investigative report has detailed how at least $20 billion was moved out of Russia between 2010 and 2014 in what it describes as a massive money-laundering scheme.
According to The Global Laundromat, an investigative report coordinated by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) together with local partners in Russia, Moldova, and elsewhere and published on March 20, many of the Russians allegedly involved have ties to the Russian government and the Russian security services.
"Some of the funds may have been diverted from the Russian treasury through fraud, rigging of state contracts, or customs and tax evasion," the report says.
The latest OCCRP investigation follows up on its initial 2014 report on the alleged money-laundering.
In all, the probe documented around 70,000 suspicious transactions involving 21 Russian-controlled shell companies sending payments to 96 countries.
In one part of the complex scheme, the report says, two fake shell companies would sign a loan agreement involving a Moldovan citizen. After one company defaulted, a Moldovan court would order it to repay the loan to an account in Moldindconbank. This laundered money then could be transferred to banks in the West and other parts of the world. A total of about $8 billion was moved in this way, the report says.
Another $13 billion allegedly moved through Latvia's Trast Komercbanka during the same period.
Since the scheme was first reported in 2014, Moldova, Latvia, and the United Kingdom have launched criminal investigations, but "attempts to bring those responsible to justice and to recover the money have been hampered in part by the reluctance of Russian officials to cooperate," the report states.
With reporting by AFP and The Guardian