On February 3rd 2017 SMX Collective filed a complaint against the Rabobank Group. We presented information and arguments based on national and international criminal law that showed the relevance for Dutch prosecutors to open an investigation. We asked the prosecutors not only to investigate whether Rabobank and its executives had done enough to prevent money laundering, but also to take into account the severe human consequences of this crime in Mexico.
This week, breaking news about a grand jury investigation in the US sheds new light on our complaint. In the United States, Rabobank is being held accountable for its illegal actions involving the movement of more than 300 million EUR through the US financial system. According to the US attorney:
This bank deliberately allowed hundreds of millions of dollars of suspicious cash transactions and wire transfers to flow through its branches and took measures to hide this activity from regulators.
Rabobank had knowledge of the nature, extent, and duration of the money laundering. However, the bank pleaded guilty to relatively minor offences: impairing, impeding and obstructing regulators.
In general, the outcome of the US investigation is an important step: it supports factually and legally our complaint. But it is not enough. After paying a financial fine, the bank will continue business as usual. This follows the trend of the HSBC case, who payed $1.92 billion to settle a similar case six years ago. What does this mean for the victims in Mexico? How does this outcome reflect the impact that money laundering has on cartel-growth and cartel violence? And what about the guarantee of no-repetition?
Money laundering is a serious crime that has consequences far beyond financial institutions. It strengthens the violence generated by organized crime, reinforces corruption and legitimises impunity, further deepening the severe human rights crisis in Mexico. As a consequence of drugs violence, more than 230,000 people have been killed since 2006, more than 30,000 have been disappeared and more than 100 journalists have been murdered.
With all the human rights violations in mind, the settlement in the US is rather limited. While the Rabobank acknowledged their role in money laundering, no juridical mechanisms are enforced to hold the bank accountable for the human consequences of their actions. However, the outcome of the US investigation does offer further proof and legitimacy for a Dutch investigation into the role of the Rabobank in human rights violations.
The US Department of Justice has done its part, now we urge the Dutch prosecutors to do theirs.
Already one year ago, we urged the Dutch prosecutors to heed our call to investigate the Rabobank’s involvement in the human rights violations related to money laundering. By upholding their principles and commitment to protect and defend human life, above injustice and profits, we asked the Dutch prosecutors not to be passive or silent. This investigation cannot end in only a settlement, as so often happened in the past.
As SMX Collective, we are convinced that the role of Dutch prosecutors can be fundamental in the process of finding justice for the grave crimes committed with the complicity of Dutch banks.
Money laundering is not a victimless crime.
Until justice is served.
Amsterdam 8th of February 2018