October 15, 2001
Narco News 2001
Citigroup Lobbies to
Weaken Anti-Terror Legislation
Could Clip Bank Industry's Narco-Profits
Senator: Bank Lobbyists
"are being very unpatriotic"
Time To Expose the "White
By Al Giordano
to The Narco News Bulletin
view is suddenly different from Citigroup
headquarters in New York, and from the boardrooms of the large
banks and financial institutions that compete with it, too.
We are not speaking of the empty vista
of a city skyline where two towers once stood and thousands of
innocent lives were lost. The sweat under the white collars of
bank executives in New York is not due to fear of suicide bombers.
The specter haunting Citigroup and the other large banks is that
the fast march of current events could lead to a new public understanding
and outrage: that terrorism and the illicit drug trade that funds
it could not exist without banks to launder their funds.
The bankers and financiers knew, or should
have known, all along that their money-laundering business has
caused many atrocities, and would eventually lead to massacres
on the scale of September 11th.
Three words must now enter the public
lexicon: "White Collar Terrorists."
kingpins of global organized crime
do not wear sombreros nor turbans. They wear suits and ties.
They attend political fundraisers. They hire big lobbying firms.
They pressure and push lawmakers for loopholes that have, so
far, allowed a system of "private banking," "correspondent
banks," and "offshore shell banks" to launder
the money of corrupt regimes and criminal empires across the
Citigroup is the largest financial institution
in the world. It has been caught time and time again in narco-money
laundering trails in our América and across the globe.
Citigroup, according to the Washington
Post, is now lobbying to weaken anti-terrorism money-laundering
legislation in Washington.
has extensively documented Citigroup's history of impunity and
corruption when it comes to laundering drug money for corrupt
regimes in Mexico and Peru,
and Argentina, among other nations.
We have also reported on the hypocrisy of Citigroup executive
chairman Robert Rubin, who prosecuted Banamex in the Operation
Casablanca case when he was U.S. Treasury Secretary, and
then orchestrated the former National Bank of Mexico's purchase
by Citigroup. Rubin, as alleged in
a pending federal lawsuit by a former U.S. Customs Agent
against his former department, presided over a Treasury regime
that punished, harassed and silenced honest whistleblowers against
corruption in his agencies.
the aftermath of the September 11th attacks,
President George W. Bush has proclaimed that Washington will
now clamp down on the money laundering that funds terrorist organizations.
But the White House has, so far, only frozen assets of foreign
businesses, all of them from the Arab regions. The executive
branch continues to allow impunity and corruption by U.S. financial
powers, even as it grandstands against the terror-money trail.
Congress, however, has stood up to take
on the real power-behind-the-terror-throne: United States banking
and financial interests. The Washington Post reported
last week that "Some of the nation's largest banks -- including
Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. -- are lobbying to
change key provisions of proposed money-laundering legislation."
The Washington Post reports:
Citigroup and other big
banks want to change the wording of a provision that would require
banks to actively monitor transactions they conduct for their
wealthiest clients -- "private banking" customers --
and for clients of other banks -- "correspondent banking"
services, sources said.
The banks want to include
language that would give the secretary of the Treasury the authority
to exempt U.S. banks from having to exercise enhanced oversight
when doing business with banks from countries that have weak
money-laundering laws, an industry lawyer familiar with the lobbying
In addition, Citigroup
executive Rick Small has proposed language that would soften
a provision barring U.S. banks from doing business with offshore
shell banks that have no physical office and no affiliation with
an established bank. Until recently, Small was one of the Federal
Reserve Board's top money-laundering experts. He didn't return
of these three areas of Citigroup's business
- Private Banking, Correspondent Banking, and relations with
Offshore Shell Banks - are keys to a system in which U.S. banks
have been allowed to virtually monopolize the drug money trade.
While U.S. authorities rail about "drug dealers," "cartels"
and "narco-guerrillas," the true kingpins of the illegal
drug trade are the banks and institutions that launder the drug
money and hoard the profits. It is precisely for them that drug
prohibition exists, and that governments protect them by prosecuting
the lower levels of the illicit drug trade.
Bush's dishonest "war on terrorism"
has so far followed the drug-war model of hypocrisy. He has targeted
foreigners and outlaws, while leaving the powerful White Collar
Terrorists within the United States to conduct business-as-usual.
And thus, the institutional apparatus that funds and ensures
future acts of terrorism is left in place, untouched.
director Robert Rubin's cynical role
as apologist and publicist for White Collar Terrorism did not
end when he left his job as Treasury Secretary.
After the September 11th attacks, and
the presidential speeches about money laundering by terrorists,
Rubin penned a column for the Financial Times of London
titled, with a straight face, "Getting
Tough on Terror Funding."
"Fighting terrorism on a global scale
must include a consistent and co-ordinated approach to stemming
the flow of funds to terrorist organizations," began Rubin
in his column.
Directors Robert Rubin, Alfredo Harp, Roberto Hernández
and Sandy Weill
Rubin praised the Clinton administration's
actions (in effect, patting himself on the back for his own failures
as Treasury Secretary) and also the Bush administration (in effect,
polishing the apple for the administration whose complicity Rubin's
Citigroup needs to continue business-as-usual).
According to banker Rubin, the U.S. government
that regulates his and other banks has been an effective foe
of illicit money laundering. In Rubin's self-interested fantasy
world, one can close his eyes and almost see the twin towers
of World Trade, still standing, and more than 4,000 workers assassinated
there, still riding the elevator, smiling from 9 to 5 each day.
"The keys to success in this arena,"
writes the architect of Washington's failed policies against
money-laundering, "are persistence, patience and, especially,
The blame, Rubin implies, lies not with
the culture of impunity that allows U.S. bankers the loopholes
they need to launder the drug money of despots and mafias across
the world. Rubin seeks to point the finger away from his industry's
responsibility and profits, toward foreign nations: "to
be successful, the US must secure the full co-operation of the
international community in adopting policies and procedures to
identify, track and block the flow of funds related to money
laundering or support for terrorism."
"Many countries," Rubin tells
us, "lack the laws, enforcement mechanisms and political
will to stem undesirable financial flows. Now is the time to
address those weaknesses."
But what about the country where Rubin
lives, and the government that regulates his bank? "The
US cannot be effective in its financial assault on terrorism
by going it alone," he argues.
Perhaps sensing that members of Congress
are justifiably concerned that the United States has not effectively
stemmed the illegal money laundering business within its borders,
Rubin suggests that his fox be deputized to guard the chickens:
"It is vitally important that the US government co-ordinate
with the private sector throughout this process to maximise the
effectiveness of this effort."
But as Rubin makes his hollow calls for
"international cooperation," he and his bank are being
most uncooperative with Congressional efforts to end money laundering
at home, in the financial capital of the world.
Legislation sponsored by Senators Carl
M. Levin (D-Michigan) and Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), according
to the Washington Post, "is intended to make it easier
for federal authorities to detect and dismantle the financial
networks of global terrorists, drug dealers and other criminals."
The Senate Banking committee passed the
anti-terror money laundering bill early this month. The Senators
complained to the Washington Post that there are "efforts
by industry to water down the bill." The Post specifically
fingered Rubin's Citigroup and J.P. Morgan bank lobbyists as
the perpetrators of the attempted dental surgery upon the legislation,
intended, said Senator Levin, to assure that the anti-money laundering
provisions would "have no teeth."
At Narco News, we will add this
entire affair to our growing list of questions to be posed to
Citigroup's Robert Rubin when we place him under oath and depose
him in the Drug War on Trial case.
warned that failing to clamp down on
this kind of money laundering in the United States "could
subjugate national security interests to those of big business."
Fitts, the former managing director
of New York financial powerhouse Dillon Read, warned, more than
a year ago, that the United States policies on money laundering
would lead to atrocity. She said that U.S. enforcement efforts
against money laundering are "designed to make the least
possible investment in the appearance of financial integrity,
while ensuring that the US can become the premier money laundering
country in the world, as well as the premiere reinvestment market
for successfully laundered funds."
"Money laundering is the engine"
wrote Fitts, in her April 2000 correspondence from the Fountainbleu
Hotel in Miami Beach, where she attended Money Laundering Alert's
Conference on Money Laundering. "It provides a low cost
source of capital to build corporations in a manner that destroys
the ability of the customers to maintain their cultural or political
"The US enforcement effort to prevent
money laundering is the financial equivalent of landing on Normandy
beach with a water pistol," wrote Fitts, who said that even
honest law enforcement officials are completely outgunned by
the banks, their attorneys and lobbyists in trying to stamp out
money laundering. "The Money Laundering Enforcement and
Compliance Industry is designed to fail."
Writing from the belly of the beast, Fitts
reported in April 2000, "This is the most uptight uncomfortable
group I have ever been with. I got into the elevator with a relaxed
and fun black guy yesterday. I commented about how uptight this
crowd was. He laughed and said "Oh, that is because there
are so many spooks around."
"At lunch," Fitts reported from
the conference, "the guy from Citigroup was talking with
someone from Bank of New York who looked genetically just like
him. They were talking about who was 'agency' or not and how
with the 'agency'. I was wearing blue jeans. I guess they did
not realize I would understand what they were talking about."
The 'agency'? This brings us to the "CIA
exemption" in U.S. money-laundering laws. One of the tougher
U.S. anti-money laundering laws is called the Narcotics Kingpins
Act. This act was approved by Congress in 1999 to freeze and
seize the assets of drug money launderers. Industry lobbyists
worked so hard to weaken that bill that a
U.S. Congressmen, on the floor of the House, felt compelled to
criticize the "narco-lobbyists" who pressured to
gut the bill.
"The narco-lobbyists were paid well,"
said the Congressman in 1999. Apparently, it is still happening
A little-known fact about the Narco Kingpins
act is that it provides for a "CIA exemption." Before
the U.S. publishes and updates its list of narco-kingpins across
the globe whose assets are to be frozen and seized, the list
is shown to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, which has,
under the law, a veto power exercised in secrecy. This provision
is both to protect criminals and bankers who launder drug money
while simultaneously serving as CIA informants, and to give the
CIA tremendous power to recruit new informants among corrupt
officials and bankers, trading impunity for agency.
could this be relevant to the September
The U.S. government and media have placed
the blame for the attacks on the organization of Osama Bin Laden
and his allies, the Taliban in Afghanistan. Narco News
repeats that Washington has not yet offered clear evidence of
who may have been behind the crimes of September 11th, as articulately
explained by former U.S. Army Special Operations
Master Sgt. Stan Goff on our pages.
But Citigroup's Bob Rubin seems to accept
the hypothesis that Bin Ladin and the Taliban were responsible.
In his Financial Times column, he praises the Clinton and Bush
administrations for their actions, prior to September 11th, against
Bin Laden and the Taliban, as if they had done any good at all
in protecting the victims of September.
"In July 1999," writes Rubin
of his salad days at Treasury, his boss, Bill Clinton, "signed
an order imposing an asset freeze against the Taliban. The basis
of this order was a finding that the Taliban had allowed Osama
bin Laden and his al-Qaeda organisation to use its territory
as a safe haven and base of operations." Still, if bin Laden
and the Taliban were, as Washington claims, responsible for the
September 11th attacks, the asset freeze obviously proved impotent.
Rubin's July of 1999, the U.S. government
was still backing the Peru regime of Alberto Fujimori and his
strongman Vladimiro Montesinos, despite mountains of evidence
linking that regime, and Montesinos in particular, with terrorism
and narco-trafficking. It is now undisputed that Montesinos was
a CIA "intelligence asset." He was run by the CIA,
even as he trampled on human rights and impeded true democracy
in Peru - maybe, in fact, because he committed those atrocities.
During that same period, while Citigroup's
Robert Rubin was the top U.S. official against money laundering
as Treasury Secretary, Citigroup
helped Montesinos and his family launder more than $18 million
U.S. dollars. This was documented last Spring by Narco
Montesinos subsequently fell from grace
with Washington and the CIA, became a fugitive, was later apprehended
by the government of Venezuela and immediately extradited to
Peru, where he is now reportedly incarcerated and awaiting trial
for a long list of crimes and corruptions.
Among the large body of evidence against
Montesinos are videotapes he made, secretly, of his meetings
with officials, including U.S. officials, in his office. Videos
that Montesinos had intended to blackmail others now have converted
into evidence against him.
one of those videotapes, filmed in
January 2000, Montesinos
told a Peruvian official that Bin Laden used Peru's capital city
of Lima as his organization's center of Latin American activities.
``This is the rest area," Montesinos was recorded as saying,
almost boasting, "not to carry out operations in Lima but
to act on white Americans in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and the
rest of Latin America.''
The videotape was broadcast on September
21 on the TV station Frequencia Latina in Peru.
The Al Quaida network of Bin Laden could
not have enjoyed such refuge in Peru without the approval of
Montesinos, who ran Peru with an iron fist, and collected a fee
from all whom he protected. This, as the U.S. government, according
to Peruvian prosecutors, also gave $10 million dollars to groups
under control of Montesinos, and as Citigroup helped launder
$18 million dollars in Montesinos' illicit money.
Specifically, Citigroup laundered Montesinos
money through its "Private Banking" program; the precise
program that would be targeted by the legislation in Washington
that Citigroup is lobbying to gut.
Robert Rubin of Citigroup says that "Fighting
terrorism on a global scale must include a consistent and co-ordinated
approach to stemming the flow of funds to terrorist organizations."
Afghanistan is being bombed today for exactly what Citigroup
Private Banking client Montesinos did: for giving refuge to Bin
Meanwhile, Rubin's lobbyists, backed by
all the economic and political power of Citigroup, the largest
financial institution in the world, are working overtime to make
sure that nothing - not even the lessons of September 11th -
will be able to stop them from laundering the dirty money of
terrorists like Montesinos and those he protected, again and
The impunity of White Collar Terrorism,
reaping its profits from the U.S. policy of drug prohibition
and the corrupt and selective enforcement by the government that
protects it, guarantees that Bush's "war on terrorism"
is already lost. "Very unpatriotic," comments Senator
Grassley of the bankers' lobbying efforts.
Rubin and Citigroup, by placing everyone
at future risk to ensure their future Private Banking profits,
are very unpatriotic, indeed.
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