ISLAMABAD: The top-secret files of the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) have exposed the involvement of Indian banks, including the state-owned banks, in money laundering through transactions used in facilitating and financing acts of terrorism, particularly in the region.
At least 44 Indian banks, including the state-owned banks, have been tagged as the financial institutions of the country linked to transactions by the Indian entities and individuals in Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) filed by the watchdog agency FinCEN. The entities and individuals were involved in money laundering of $1.53 billion through 3,201 illegal and suspicious transactions. The practice of money-laundering through 44 commercial banks has also raised questions as to who, where, and for what purpose the money was laundered.
An India-based publication like others has also reported that between 2010 and 2017, several transactions went through the Indian banks that were flagged as top-secret SARs by the FinCEN for money laundering, terror financial and financial fraud.
The ‘Business Standard’ also observed that such transactions were part of $2 trillion suspicious transfers flagged by the top US authority in the FinCEN list. Such transactions were part of $2 trillion dollars suspicious transfers as flagged by the top US authority in the FinCEN list. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) had also obtained data on these transactions. The Business Standard also reported that almost all the major public, foreign and private Indian banks have witnessed suspicious transactions.
Earlier, a report released by the United Nations also disclosed the presence of a significant number of terrorist groups in Kerala, Karnataka and Assam. There are also reports that gold and diamond were also used for money laundering, while the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been a major source of this illegal practice. The report reveals that the Indian banks mentioned in Suspicious Activity Reports include the stated-owned Punjab National Bank involved in around 300 transactions, State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, Canara Bank and others. The foreign branches of Indian banks such as a State Bank of India account in Canada and an account of Union Bank of India in the UK have been used by clients for carrying out part of the transactions in question.
The private Indian banks whose names were reported in SARs besides others include the HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank. The HDFC Bank has been reported as the top sender with over transactions of over $327 million.
The report also recommended that the international watchdogs like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Anti Money Laundering Task Force should explore ways to tackle such practices. The Indian authorities eager to see Pakistan on the FATF blacklist themselves must now be in hot waters in view of the appearance of this latest FinCEN report.
India has used terror financing to conduct terrorism in Pakistan. It may be pointed out that a retired Indian military officer, Major (retd) Gaurav Arya appearing on a television show had confessed to his involvement in terrorist activities in Balochistan. He also claimed that he had been in touch with the Baloch separatist groups. Speaking in a talk show in the second week of May last, he also predicted attacks on Pakistan’s security forces in Balochistan. Just two days after the show, six FC personnel, including a Major, were martyred in an IED blast near the Pak-Iran border.
Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, a serving Indian Navy officer associated with RAW, who was arrested during a counter-intelligence operation in Balochistan on March 3, 2016 and later sentenced to death by the Field General Court Martial, had also confessed to the involvement of his state in carrying out terrorism in Pakistan. The International Court of Justice had also rejected an appeal by the Indian government to release Jadhav.