The U.S. House of Representatives’ Banking Committee held a second day of hearings yesterday, featuring James Robinson, head of the U.S. Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and Thomas A. Renyi, head of the Bank of New York, which is being investigated for allegedly having received US$4 billion to US$15 billion laundered from Russia. While Robinson refused to discuss the specifics of the ongoing investigation, he did say that his department had seen a growing number of “suspicious financial transactions emanating from countries of the former Soviet Union” over the last few years. He also said the Clinton administration was proposing various new anti-moneylaundering steps, including measures which would require brokerage firms and casinos to notify authorities of suspicious activities, as banks are required to do. Banking committee chairman Representative Jim Leach said that he would introduce legislation to make it more difficult for offshore banks to operate in defiance of U.S. law.
For his part, Renyi complained that media reports on the Bank of New York scandal have given insufficient attention to the fact that the bank itself is fully cooperating in the investigation. He did admit, however, that the bank had waited too long to report suspicious activities through accounts set up by Peter Berlin, the Russian-born businessman whose accounts were, allegedly, the conduit for billions of dollars from Russia. Lucy Edwards, formerly a top executive in the Bank of New York, was fired after the scandal broke, for allegedly falsifying bank records and not cooperating with investigators. She is married to Berlin. Another top official in the bank, Natasha Kagalovsky, was suspended in connection with the case. The bank itself has not been charged with any crimes.
KREMLIN INVOLVEMENT IN BANK OF NEW YORK SCANDAL SEEMS CONFIRMED.