by Ganesh Sahathevan
Having recently payed about a million and a half in fines for AML/CTF breaches, Wells Fargo is now implicated in a money laundering scandal that rivals the drug cartel business that its wholly-owned subsidiary Wachovia had once transacted.
At the heart of the scandal is the apparent theft of some $ 10 billion from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1 MDB). Part of the funds said to be stolen is said to have found its way to the personal accounts of the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. In his defence he has said that a Saudi family had sent him a donation of US$ 681 million, via Wells Fargo Bank of New York, using a BVI company (since liquidated) called Tanore Finance. That company was a client of Falcon Private Bank Of Singapore, which was the ordering institution for that wire transfer. The Wall Street Journal which broke the story of that massive "donation" hasplaced on-line the relevant documents.
No one is buying the story, and to make matters worse Najib's deputy Ahmad Zaidi and other ministers have said that the money was only part of what the Saudi benefactor had provided Muslim groups throughout the region, including Muslim separatist in Thailand and the Philippines who have been waging guerilla warfare against the majority in those countries.