It’s not easy to be stuck in the middle, a position that banks inhabit as they process the financial activities of others. Most transactions passing through their systems are honest, but some are illicit, often involving money laundering. Are banks innocent victims of criminals who exploit their processes or knowing participants in crimes? The case has not been tried, but public sentiment leans toward the latter. Can banks come clean?
While banks are easy targets to blame, the recent leaks of suspicious-activity reports—revealed by BuzzFeed News in September—instead confirmed that they are fulfilling their roles in the fight against international money laundering. Rather, it is the whole system that is on the verge of collapse and needs to be rethought.