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U.S. officials ready to target banks over safeguarding failures: report

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Authorities reportedly set to crack down on banks for failing to monitor whether cash was being used to launder dirty money

Major US banks are being investigated for insufficiently safeguarding against being used by drug dealers or terrorist groups to launder dirty money, it was reported Saturday.

An article in the New York Times suggested that federal and state authorities were ready to launch an aggressive crackdown on the failure to monitor transactions, in a move aimed at flagging to financial institutions that weak compliance is unacceptable.

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Officials told the Times that regulators are close to taking action against JP Morgan, while other firms including Bank of America are also being investigated over perceived shortcomings when it comes to putting a check on money-laundering activities.

It comes just months after a Senate committee roundly criticised HSBC for ignoring warning signs that it was being used by money launderers and drug cartels in Mexico.

US politicians also accused HSBC of circumventing US sanctions on countries including Cuba and Iran – a charge that has also been levied against JP Morgan.

The Senate report was also highly critical of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), stating that the regulator needed to take “stronger action” on banks that exercise poor anti-money laundering controls.

The OCC is now leading the crackdown on non-compliant banks, according to the New York Times report.

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It suggested that a “cease-or-desist” order could be issued against JP Morgan in the coming months, forcing the bank to review its checks, and implement measures to firm up its safeguards.

Prosecutors from the justice department and the Manhattan district attorney’s office are also investigating lapses at a number of financial institutions, it was reported.

If action is taken against JP Morgan it will comes as a further blow to a bank still reeling from a $5.8bn trading loss that led to a political firestorm in the US and led to a tighter regulation of Wall Street.

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guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2012

[Banker kissing piggy-bank for savings via Shutterstock.com.]

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2020 Election

GOP scrambling to pay for Jacksonville convention after Trump yanked it from North Carolina: report

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According to a report from the New York Times, Republican officials are having difficulties getting donors to pay for the Republican National Convention to be held in Jacksonville, Florida after Donald Trump yanked the gathering out of Charlotte, North Carolina in a fit of pique over COVID-19 health restrictions.

At issue, the report notes, is that millions of dollars were spent in North Carolina where a smaller event will now be held, and now the party is, in essence, forced to pay for a second convention.

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As much of US marks a muted Independence Day, Trump encourages big parties

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While public health officials are urging Americans to avoid large crowds and hold more muted July 4 celebrations amid a spike of coronavirus cases, President Donald Trump is going big for what he is promising will be a “special evening” in the nation's capital.

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Despite its claim to host the world's largest concentration of hospitals and research labs, the city of Houston is dangerously close to being overwhelmed by the explosion of coronavirus cases sweeping across Texas.

Since the Memorial Day weekend in late May and major anti-racism protests in June, "it is an unbelievable trajectory," as if the flood gates had opened, said Faisal Masud, director of critical care at Houston Methodist Hospital.

Masud has been on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19 since it reached Houston.

"This has been relentless for us," he told AFP. "We didn't get a break."

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