Russian money laundering machine shifted millions through the Netherlands

A money laundering operation which moved billions of euros out of Russia shifted part of the cash through the Netherlands, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project said on Monday.

In total, almost €1bn of the money ended up in the Netherlands, some of which was used to buy two luxury yachts, said the research project, which includes Trouw and the Groene Amsterdammer magazine plus Dutch investigative journalism collective Investico.

The OCCRP says Troika Dialog, once Russia’s largest private investment bank, channeled billions of dollars out of Russia from 2004 via a network of 70 offshore companies with accounts in Lithuania. The two Lithuanian banks were closed down in 2011 and 2013.

The scheme was discovered in a collection of 1.3 million banking transactions and other documents obtained by OCCRP and the Lithuanian news site, which stem from the two Lithuanian banks.

Some of the money was channeled into the Netherlands via the Amsterdam Trade Bank (ATB) and Turkey’s GarantiBank. ATB, part of Russia’s Alfa Bank, is already under investigation over reporting unusual transactions.

Smaller amounts were moved through ING and ABN Amro, the Groene Amsterdammer said. ‘The million euro payments came from the Troika Bank and had many signs of money laundering,’ the magazine said.

In addition, €43m went to the Rabobank account of luxury yacht builder Heesen, according to Dutch investigative news collective Investico.

‘How could all this happen under the watchful eye of the central bank DNB?’ the magazine asked. ‘Banks are banned from carrying out transactions if they don’t know who profits, but, the central bank says, banks often have no idea who is really hiding behind anonymous companies.’

The central bank declined to answer specific questions about the claims, the Groene Amsterdammer said.

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