In New York City’s Chinatown, a restaurateur uses her informal banking business to launder the millions of dollars she earns from smuggling and exploiting illegal immigrants. In Colombia, the Chiquita banana company uses fraudulent bookkeeping to cover up its payoffs to a designated terrorist group and drug cartel responsible for the deaths of untold civilians. In Iran, authorities use state-owned banks and an array of front companies to further their nuclear and terrorist efforts. On the island of Macau, an obscure, family-owned bank circulates millions of dollars in counterfeit U.S. currency on behalf of North Korean diplomats engaged in drug and arms trafficking. In Indonesia, an al-Qaeda affiliate uses cash couriers to deliver thousands of dollars in undeclared money to operatives in Bali, who then conduct a suicide bombing that kills more than 200 people.
These are just a handful of the ways in which drug cartels, human smugglers, terrorists, rogue states, and even legitimate businesses have exploited weaknesses in the international financial system to further their goals. Such abuses continue to threaten both U.S. national security and the global economy, as tainted money flows through banks and across borders in unprecedented amounts. In this book, former Treasury Department analyst Avi Jorisch offers a sobering look at past and current efforts to stem this flow, both in the United States and abroad. Only by acknowledging the shortcomings in these efforts, he argues, can we hope to effectively confront an age-old problem that has taken on frightening new dimensions in the post-September 11 era.