Between 2010 and 2014, Russian criminals laundered billions in cash. By using global banks in Moldova, Latvia, and other European countries, somewhere between $20 billion to $80 billion were circulated using fake companies, bogus business agreements, shady contracts, and a whole slew of illegal dealings.
Eventually, the Government agencies and anti-corruption bureaus eventually caught onto the scheme. Moldovan businessman Veacslav Platon was arrested for his involvement (and still claims his innocence, or course). Igor Putin, Vladimir Putin’s cousin, was also accused of participating in the money laundering process.
While more arrests have yet to be made and the full scope of the scheme is still being realized, it led to some pretty interesting findings. The queen’s bank of choice was also involved. American pop-punk band The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus were also unwittingly involved. If this sounds strangely confusing, fear not. The Guardian recently put together this amazing explainer on how the “perfect crime” ran off the rails, and why investigators are calling it “the Russian Laundromat.”
Why was this money laundered in the first place? Money laundering takes illegally earned money from crime and attempts to make it look like it came from a legal source. By moving the cash around, the perpetrators of this scheme were trying to make it look like they were getting $20 billion or more from legal, taxable means. Most banks involved have since been shut down for laundering the money, as Moldova, Latvia, and Russia continue to investigate the intricacies of the plot. Since Russian elites like Putin’s cousin are involved, we might never hear any more details about it again, especially when the country is acting uncooperatively with Latvian and Moldovan officials.