WSJ “Investigation” Targets Crypto but Gives Banks a Pass

There’s an ongoing narrative that the traditional financial industry wants us to accept. It clashes with the narrative put forward by cryptocurrency evangelists, that the banking system is reliable and trustworthy. Crypto, on the other hand, is the Wild West, full of untested technology, scam artists, and crooks. Money in banks is secure and traceable. Crypto is inherently untraceable and therefore the domain of criminals.

But as Forbes reveals — and this should come as no surprise to anyone — the largest and most influential banks in the world have been participating in what amounts to money laundering to the tune of $234 billion. These are names we all know: J.P. Morgan, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Deutsche Bank. They essentially took turns serving as “correspondent banks,” making transfers for Danske Bank Estonia’s customers from Russia and Eastern Europe, who were laundering money.

Despite plenty of red flags, the banks took years to conclude that there was anything amiss, only to be replaced by the next bank that played along. They say it was not intentional (of course) but, you know, stuff happens, especially when it’s monstrously profitable.

Here’s the rub: As the Wall Street Journal shows, there is money laundering in crypto, too. But look at the numbers — $88 million laundered through 46 exchanges. That’s it? We know it’s just two random reports, and it’s just a drop in the bucket in both industries. But $234 billion laundered through banks vs $88 million in crypto is three orders of magnitude worse.

The investigations reported by the WSJ resulted in arrests and actionable information because crypto is traceable to a certain extent. But a series of investigations in the Danske Bank Estonia case resulted in little more than insignificant fines and regulatory slaps on the wrist for the big banks.

The traditional banks would have you believe that this was an anomaly, but we know better. For far too long we have accepted this state of things as normal. We’re not saying the banks are the source of all problems and crypto has all the answers. Not by a long shot. But when presented with a narrative, always ask yourself who gains by accepting that narrative.