The vast majority of an estimated $352 billion in proceeds of organized crime, mostly from the drug trade, was funneled through the global banking system during the financial crisis of the past two years, and in some cases, the money rescued banks from collapse, says the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
Antonio Maria Costa told the UK Observer that intelligence agencies and prosecutors alerted him 18 months ago to evidence that drug money was being “absorbed into the financial system.”
“In many instances, the money from drugs was the only liquid investment capital,” Costa said. “In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system’s main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor.”
The Observer reports:
Some of the evidence put before his office indicated that gang money was used to save some banks from collapse when lending seized up, [Costa] said.ADVERTISEMENT
“Inter-bank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade and other illegal activities… There were signs that some banks were rescued that way.” Costa declined to identify countries or banks that may have received any drugs money, saying that would be inappropriate because his office is supposed to address the problem, not apportion blame. But he said the money is now a part of the official system and had been effectively laundered.
Gangs are now believed to make most of their profits from the drugs trade and are estimated to be worth £352bn, the UN says. They have traditionally kept proceeds in cash or moved it offshore to hide it from the authorities. It is understood that evidence that drug money has flowed into banks came from officials in Britain, Switzerland, Italy and the US.
Read the complete Observer article here.
Costa has been head of the UN’s drug and crime office since 2002, and is known for his tough stance on illicit drugs, including marijuana. He recently warned that Africa is becoming a major drug hub, following an investigation into the crash of a Boeing 727 in Mali that had flown in from Venezuela carrying 10 tons of cocaine.
Disney heiress who went undercover to Disneyland ‘livid’ at conditions and pay
Heiress Abigail Disney went to one of her family's resorts to see conditions for workers herself and was disgusted by what she saw.
In comments to Yahoo News podcast "Through Her Eyes," Disney described how she went to Disneyland in California undercover and found that workers at the resort were treated poorly—and underpaid.
"Every single one of these people I talked to were saying, 'I don't know how I can maintain this face of joy and warmth when I have to go home and forage for food in other people's garbage,'" said Disney.
Ex-Peru president wanted for corruption arrested in the US
Former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo was arrested in the United States Tuesday to face extradition to his home country on corruption charges, authorities in the South American nation said.
The 73-year-old is suspected of involvement in the sprawling Odebrecht scandal in which the construction giant paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes throughout the continent to secure huge public works contracts.
The Peruvian attorney general's office announced on Twitter that Toledo "was arrested this morning for extradition, in the United States."
Toledo has been formally charged with receiving a $20 million payment from Odebrecht to grant it the tender to build the Interoceanic Highway that links Peru with Brazil.
Comic-Con mines past for future hits on 50th edition
A smorgasbord of sequels, prequels and reunions from "Terminator" to "Game of Thrones" awaits thousands of misty-eyed comic book geeks and sci-fi nerds descending on San Diego this week for the world's largest celebration of pop culture fandom.
The 50th edition of Comic-Con International will see 135,000 cosplayers, bloggers, movie executives and humble fans pile into a sweaty convention center for glimpses of their heroes, in town to promote the next mega-hit films, TV shows and comic books.
This anniversary edition promises to be more nostalgia-laden than most -- among those expected to appear are Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton, who will soon reunite on screen for the first time since 1991's "Terminator 2" for Paramount's killer cyborg sequel "Dark Fate."