Financial Regulatory Forum

COLUMN – Drugs, terrorism and shadow banking: Bernd Debusmann

(Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)

By Bernd Debusmann

WASHINGTON, March 26 (Reuters) – The trouble with moving big amounts of cash, from a criminal’s point of view, is threefold. It’s bulky, it’s heavy and it smells.

A stash of $1 million in mixed bills weighs around 100 pounds (50 kilos). Specially-trained dogs can sniff out bulk cash in a heartbeat.

All of which helps to explain why drug cartels and financiers of terrorism appear to have been making increasing use of what FBI chief Robert Mueller calls a shadow banking system.

Its features include a legal loophole that allows money launderers to get around the requirement that cash or “monetary instruments” (share certificates, travellers’ cheques, money orders etc.) in excess of $10,000 must be declared on entering or leaving the United States.

It is, however, perfectly legal to carry, say, $50,000 embedded in the magnetic stripes of so-called pre-paid stored-value cards.

ANALYSIS – Shadow banks hold key to post-Basel bank profits

By Kevin Drawbaugh

WASHINGTON, Jan 26 (Reuters) – Bank profits are set to come under serious pressure at the end of 2012 from higher global capital and liquidity standards, but just how bad it gets depends greatly on the future of the “shadow banking system”.

U.S. banking sector analysts are increasingly focused on the interplay between the setting of global capital standards and parallel efforts to bring non-bank financial institutions to heel and moderate their resurgence in credit markets.

The ability of regulators to bring “shadow banks” — investment firms, hedge funds, insurers, special investment vehicles — under a new oversight regime will help determine the pricing power banks have to raise rates on future loans.

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