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Fines for Deutsche, Other Money Launderers ‘Just a Cover’ as Big Banks ‘Critical to US Empire’

© AP Photo / Michael ProbstDeutsche Bank headquarters
Deutsche Bank headquarters - Sputnik International
International banks like Deutsche Bank can be periodically revealed to break financial regulations and even get fined for it, but they’re rarely punished meaningfully since they’re essential to the functioning of the US capitalist empire, an economist told Sputnik on Thursday.

A recent report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists revealed a vast network of money laundering centered on Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest bank, based in Frankfurt am Main. The report noted thousands of suspicious activity reports and tens of billions of dollars in fines paid by Deutsche Bank for its money-laundering practices over the last three years alone.

Dr. Jack Rasmus, who teaches economics and politics at St. Mary’s College of California and is the author of the book "The Scourge of Neoliberalism: US Economic Policy from Reagan to Trump," told Radio Sputnik’s Political Misfits on Thursday that banks like Deutsche make far more money from their illegal financial practices than the fines levied against them take away, so they just regard fines as “the cost of doing business.”

‘A Global Network’

“This is what these banks are reporting to the government; you can be sure that there are probably as large a magnitude - this was $2 trillion - probably not even reported,” Rasmus told hosts Michelle Witte and Bob Schlehuber.

“But the thing that amazes me is that they feel it’s OK to report because the governments actually do nothing about it,” he noted. 

“Now, the biggest violator here, obviously, is Deutsche, which has a reputation as a global, sleazy, money-laundering institution, par none here. Deutsche takes money from drug dealers and the whole network of gray and black money, Russian oligarchs and so forth, and it’s well-known that it was the only place Donald Trump could go and get any loans anymore, because he bilked all the other banks. So there’s this connection, I’m sure, between Deutsche and Trump and probably some of the worst Russian oligarchs who moved to the West.”

“It’s not just Deutsche. Goldman Sachs and its Malaysia scam with the 1MDB [1 Malaysia Development Berhad] situation is part of it,” Rasmus told Sputnik. “This is a global network of capitalist financial institutions. They’re all connected to each other, and the money flows through many of them to each other, because it’s the same investors that are behind the scenes of the banks.”

“It’s not just the banks as individuals - there are these deals being made on behalf of private, capitalist financial speculators. Who are these people? That’s the real story. But we, of course, don’t get to know that, because that’s buried in this general report of how much money may be involved here, and it’s more than $2 trillion, I’m sure,” he added.

Too Big to Fail

“Government, the US government in particular, tolerate this. Once in a while they do a little sting, like [how] JPMorgan Chase just had to pay a billion dollars to the [US] government, because the governments just want to keep it within reasonable bounds. But the government needs the banks, they need [them], politically, for sanctions, because it’s [through] US banks that the US government checks on who’s violating the US sanctions. It uses these banks to do it and the SWIFT international money payment system,” Rasmus noted, adding SWIFT is “the key to identifying who’s violating the sanctions to allow the US to slap more sanctions on them.”

Some of the examples he gave include Venezuela, Iran and Germany, all of which the US has threatened to sanction the trading partners of, including individual companies.

“The banks are critical to the US political empire and economic empire and control,” he added. “The big banks control so much of the economy, and all these banks are so interconnected - in other words, they own and buy each other’s loans and bonds and so forth - if the government went after one of them, it would raise a concern of the security of the financial securities that they all hold and trade with each other.”

“There would be no drug problem in the United States … if there was no money laundering in the United States,” Rasmus emphasized. “The banks only want money, and they’ll take it from anywhere that they can get it.”

“The government’s got to make it look like ‘well, we’re trying to control this,’ but both sides know that that’s just for public consumption, that all these financial regulations about money laundering and so forth are just a cover,” he said. 

“The fines are just the cost of doing business. I’m sure JPMorgan made billions more than the fine it paid,” Rasmus noted, adding that banks issued “fines” don’t actually write the US Treasury a check, but rather suffer estimated losses via forced reductions in their interest rates on loans and similar schemes. “That’s how the game is played.”
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