U.S. Treasury suspects belarusian Credexbank in illegally "laundering" money.
The United States named a Belarus bank as a key hub of global money laundering Tuesday, saying its dubious ownership puts the US financial system "at risk."
The US Treasury Department said that it had added JSC CredexBank to its list of allegedly shady banks "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."
The history of the ownership of the bank by opaque shell corporations contributes to "considerable uncertainty" surrounding Credex's true beneficial ownership.
The US Treasury's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, David Cohen, said that Credex's apparent lack of even basic anti-money laundering practices and procedures "puts US financial institutions at risk."
"This action seeks to protect the US financial system from a foreign financial institution whose highly suspicious transaction patterns and pervasive lack of transparency make it virtually impossible to discern whether the bank is engaged in any legitimate business," he said.
The Treasury identified Credex as a financial institution of "primary money laundering concern" under Section 311 of the so-called USA Patriot Act, designed to intercept and block terrorism.
According to the Treasury, Credex has passed from one shell corporation to another since its founding in September 2001 by Ximex in London as Nordic Investment Bank Corporation.
Since October 2009, the bank has been owned by Vicpart Holding, based in Fribourg, Switzerland, where Vicpart shares the same address with more than 200 other companies, a troubling red flag for shell corporation activity, the Treasury said.
"The significant inconsistencies and gaps in publicly available information about Vicpart raise concerns about the true nature and purpose of Credex's owner," the Treasury said.
Most of Credex's banking relationships are with other Belarusian banks, but it also maintains links with Russian, Latvian, German, and Austrian banks, it said.