In August 1999 it was reported that billions of US dollars have been channelled through the Bank of New York in the last year in what is believed to be a major money-laundering operation by Russian organised crime. Between October 1998 and March 1999 some $4.2 billion passed through one account in more than 10,000 transactions. Investigators estimate as much as $10 billion may have flowed through the bank in that and other accounts since early last year. The transactions add up to one of the largest money-laundering operations ever uncovered in the United States.
Criminal organizations engage in a multitude of criminal activities generating illicit profits. The introduction of measures designed to foster transparency in corporate assets and in financial transactions is regarded as particularly important in preventing organized transnational crime from infiltrating the licit economy of a country and in curtailing the ability of organized crime groups to use international markets for laundering and investing their illicit proceeds. The international community has to develop effective and consistent strategies and measures that would enable it to prevent and control the laundering and use of proceeds of crime. Such strategies need to be based on the perception of the laundering and use of proceeds of crime as a criminal activity in itself. Success is dependent on the ability of the international community in cooperating to create a safety net to protect the transparency of national and international financial markets.
Continued vigilance by bank staff to potential money laundering activity is the primary deterance activity against money laundering. Most banks now have a Global Money Laundering Detection and Prevention Policy which directs staff monitoring of account activity. Bank staff also now attend periodic anti-money laundering training sessions conducted by Security Services. Implementation of the monitoring controls and procedures established by each bank as part of "Know Your Client" policies, encourage staff to be vigilant to artificial account activity and to dormant accounts which suddenly become active and dormant again.
The United Nations has adopted a Global Plan of Action on measures to be taken against the effects of money derived from, used in or intended for use in illicit drug trafficking, illegal financial flows and illegal use of the banking system.
International action against organized and transnational crime requires, in addition to intensified law enforcement, concerted efforts to prevent and control the laundering of the proceeds of crime as an essential means of destroying criminal organizations. Targeting the proceeds of crime is of the utmost importance in the fight against organized transnational crime. Effective action at the global level is crucial in preventing and controlling the accumulation of illicit profits and in contributing to the impoverishment and weakening of criminal organizations.